National Adopt a Dog Month

October is National Adopt a Dog Month, so we thought it would be the perfect time to discuss everything important that goes into adopting and things to consider before making the leap to dog parent.

The first thing to consider is whether or not you’re ready and willing to reconfigure your life to fit the needs of a four-legged family member. Although they’re so cute and cuddly, there are some serious things to consider before adopting. Can you afford unforeseen vet bills? Does your work schedule allow for time to be home and feed the dog? We talked to Allie Butler, who works at KC Pet Project, and she shared with us that most full grown trained dogs can go without a bathroom break for up to 8 hours. Puppies, however, should go no more than 2-3 hours.


Allie also told us about the “Rule of Three’s” that most shelters tell prospective adopters to remember when considering taking in a new animal.

  1. 3 Days – The first 3 days of transitioning into a new home will be the most overwhelming for any animal. Just like people, all dogs have their own personalities and may react to this stress differently. Some may seem scared and timid. Some may show more aggression than what was expected. Allie says to remember how scared we’d be if we were brought into a new home with people we didn’t know – especially when we don’t always know the backgrounds of these pups or what they’ve been through.
  2. 3 Weeks – After the first 3 weeks is when most dogs will have fully come out of his or her shell. Although this is typically a good thing, Allie told us this can also be around the time behavior problems arise. For some dogs, their level of comfort will also mean they can have more energy, more of an attitude or seem to lose some of the respect they may have showed at the beginning.
  3. 3 Months – After spending 3 months with your new pet, they will have fully adjusted to their space, their role within the home and should be showing you their real selves. Allie stressed that this rule of 3’s is important because so many people don’t give their adopted family members a fair chance.

It’s important to remember that, just like people, all animals have their own personalities and will adjust at their own pace.


Now is a good time to adopt a pet so that it has time to acclimate to your household routine before the holidays. Many people think the holidays are a wonderful time to adopt a pet, but sometimes that adds additional stress to the adoption procedure.


If you’re interested in adopting, you can check out KC Pet Project here!

Fun Fall Events (To Bring Your Dog To!)

Dog Friendly Hangouts in KC

Self-Service Dog Wash Review

KC Loves Dogs!

Top 5 Things to Remember When Boarding Your Pup


With the holiday season upon us, sometimes our four-legged friends take a back seat to all of the relatives coming to town, food to be made and gifts to be bought. Many people board their dogs to avoid the stress travel can cause not only themselves, but the dogs as well. We recently caught up with Katherine at Fetchers Play & Stay in Olathe, Kansas to ask her the top 5 most important things to remember when you’re planning on boarding your furry friends over the Holidays!

5. Always be sure your dog is up-to-date on Rabies, Parvo, Leptospirosis and any of the other common vaccines your vet may recommend. “You may even want to look into getting your dog a flu shot”, Katherine says. While a flu shot for your dog may sound a little unusual, you can protect your dog AND others by preventing illness in this new environment.

4. Bring something from home your pet feels comfortable with. Just like humans, dogs can get anxious about new places, people and situations, so the best way to remedy that is to send them with a pillow, stuffed animal, toy or any other item that might comfort him or her.

3. Always send your dog with more food than you think you need to. We’ve all been stuck somewhere longer than we planned due to illness, weather, or any other number of issues, so you never want your pup to go hungry if you’re forced to make a sudden change of plans.

2. For ANY big traveling holiday- Christmas, 4th of July, Thanksgiving…- Katherine says you should try to call ASAP to ensure your pup has somewhere to stay. “We’ve been booked out for Christmas since October, so it’s in the dog owner’s best interest to make their boarding arrangements as soon as possible to avoid being turned down or wait-listed.”

1. Katherine says the most important thing to remember when you’re planning on boarding your dogs is that the more information they have, the better they can accommodate everyone. “Keep staff updated as much as possible on any changes… always remember that we love dogs too, so we care about your dogs’ comfort AND your own. Don’t be afraid to call if you have questions or concerns. That’s what we’re here for!”

At PawsAbilities, we love dogs and want to help make sure all pups AND their humans have a joy-filled holiday season. Hopefully, these tips can help you plan ahead for your future travels and answer any questions you might have had about boarding. We hope everyone has a safe and joyous holiday and a very happy new year!

10 Last Minute DIY Halloween Costumes for Your Furry Friends

10 Last Minute DIY Halloween Costumes for Your Furry Friends

Halloween 2018 is only two days, and most of us have been planning our costumes for weeks! With school starting, Holidays approaching and everyday life, sometimes it can be hard to remember a costume for your four-legged friends.

THAT’S WHY: We’ve come up with a list for 10 EASY DIY Pet costumes you could make in an hour or less!

Let’s face it, our pets are cuter than us anyway. So here’s that inspo you’ve been needing to make your loyal companion a hit with the trick-or-treaters AND your Facebook friends, too!

  1. Pup-tini – now, we know this is a very specific Halloween costume, but it’s way too cute not to share! If your pup has been feeling a little self-conscious about their ‘cone of shame’, throw some olives in there and make them the life of the party! How could you not have fun when you’re looking as cute as this guy!?

      2. Beanie Puppy – A very simple but ADORABLE pet costume is the classic Beanie Baby tag. It can be easily added right onto the collar or tied (loosely) around your pet’s neck! You can go even further and add a personalized bio about your pet just like the Classic Beanie Babies. 

  1. Angel – Even when they act like devils, we all know our animals are our little angels. An easy pair of wings can turn your pet into the angel they truly are!
  2. Cotton Candy – If you happen to have a very well behaved four-legged friend, this cotton candy outfit is both SUPER EASY AND adorable! And kind of cotton stuffing can be used, and, BONUS – you have the creative freedom to make whatever color cotton candy you want! 
  3. Peter Pan – As you can tell from the photo, your pet will be THRILLED with this Peter Pan costume. We all know how much animals love having string around their neck! But hey, if you have some felt, scissors, string and maybe a feather, you’ll have an adorably annoyed Peter Pan in no time.
  4. Mummy – We feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. Get some kind of gauze or HEY even toilet paper, let your kitty play with it for a few minutes and you’ll have a mummy (maybe accidentally). Just make sure they aren’t wrapped anywhere that affects their mobility. It’ll be like a fun game to keep them occupied too!
  5. Solar System – If you really love Neil deGrasse Tyson or maybe have an old Solar System school assignment laying around, put it to good use and make it into a hat for your pet this Halloween! They’ll look so adorable, it’ll be out of this world! 
  6. Minions – This one may take a little more creative effort, but ESPECIALLY if you have more than one furry friend, minions is an adorable, easy idea that kids and adults alike will love! 
  7. “I’m Still Getting Ready” – If you have any old curlers or a hair net laying around the house, your dog will make the perfect “I’m Still Getting Ready” character. Sunglasses would be an extra added bonus if you can get your dog to cooperate long enough to keep them on. 
  8. PAWSABILITIES BANDANA – Last but certainly not least is the PawsAbilities Bandana! (Pssst… This is our FAVORITE idea, but don’t tell anyone.) We do all the work for you AND you get to help support a great organization! What more could you ask for?!


Hopefully these ideas will make your Halloween 2018 a little easier and spookier! Happy Halloween from all of us at PawsAbilities!

What Makes a Great Therapy Dog + Top Dogs For Fighting Anxiety

It’s no surprise that dogs are immensely popular as emotional support animals – dogs are loving creatures and provide a sense of security for their human companions.

Even the famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud used his dog, Jofi, in his therapy sessions. But why? What is it that makes dogs so great at soothing anxiety?

One answer is hormones. Many studies have shown that the hormone oxytocin may be the reason people experiencing anxiety feel better after petting a cute, sweet puppy. A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Psychology determined that oxytocin (AKA “the feel-good hormone”) spikes in both dogs and people during human/canine interactions. This hormone encourages social bonding and is the same hormone spike that new mothers experience after childbirth. So it’s no surprise that many owners consider pets part of the family.

Despite the role that oxytocin may play in humans bonding with dogs, there are other reasons why dogs can reduce an individual’s anxiety.

Physical contact, for example, feels good physically and can help reduce anxiety. This isn’t just a benefit that humans experience – animals, too, can experience reduced stress levels as a result of physical contact. Have you ever heard of Thundershirts for dogs? These are extremely helpful when a dog is scared during noisy times such as heavy rain or fireworks on holidays. The physical contact between the heavy “shirt” and a dog’s coat helps calm the canine down and reduces stress and anxiety.

The same goes for humans – weighted clothing can help alleviate anxiety, and so can a nice hug too. For this reason, many therapy dogs are taught how to place their weight on their owner’s lap or are trained to lean against their humans, providing beneficial physical contact that lowers anxiety.

Anyone with even mild anxiety can benefit from a dog because dogs love us unconditionally. No matter what humiliating faux pas we commit, our dog still adores us. For those who need scientific evidence, General Electric Company teamed up with Mic to analyze brain scans of dogs, and what they found is not surprising. When dogs took in the scent of their owners, the “reward center” in their brains was visibly activated. That means dogs are naturally wired to love us!

Many people with anxiety appreciate a sense of security, not only in a physical sense but also in an emotional one. A 2017 study published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews reported that dogs are actually able to judge people based on their behavior towards us. In other words, if a dog notices someone exhibiting negative behavior towards his or her owner, he or she will evaluate the situation and take a disliking to the person. Dogs can be quite intuitive!

Traits of an Anxiety-Soothing Canine

Despite popular belief, it doesn’t take an intelligent dog to soothe a person’s anxiety.

Even a dog that might be considered not the smartest pooch in the pack can have what it takes to be a therapy dog – loyalty and affection and two key traits in a good anxiety-reducing pooch, and many dogs have those qualities in abundance!

Hyper dogs don’t tend to be the best choice; instead, calm and even-keeled dogs are more likely to help. However, this doesn’t mean the dog needs to be shy – dogs who are friendly and outgoing can always bring a bit of energy into the room!

The best dogs for anxiety are those who can read the “signs” their owner is giving off (body language, tone of voice, etc.) and can subsequently respond with empathy and love. Many dogs can learn this behavior easily. In fact, a study has shown that dogs are able to read a human’s body language even better than chimps. This is why the best therapy dogs tend to be breeds that have a history of working alongside humans – these dogs tend to be well equipped to interpret the subtle signals humans give off.

Popular Dog Breeds for Reducing Anxiety

Every dog is an individual, regardless what breed he or she is. However, some breeds tend to be more likely to display the key qualities we mentioned above than others. Popular therapy dog breeds include:

1. Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers aren’t just a pretty face – they also make great therapy dogs. They tend to have a perpetual smile on their faces, which makes their humans smile as well.

Though they can be high-energy at times, they are also obedient and know when to calm down and enter “work mode”.

2. Labrador Retrievers

“Labs” may be bigger dogs, but many owners testify to owning large Labs than tend to think they’re lap dogs. Labradors are the most popular dog breed in the United States (and have held that title for several years). They’re often brought in to cheer people up at hospitals, mental institutions, and other places where folks may feel down.

3. Standard Poodles

Not only do Standard Poodles work to reduce anxiety, they’re also a great breed for owners with allergies. These elegant, sophisticated dogs are also quite intuitive and can pick up cues from owners easily.

4. Yorkies
Also known by their formal name, Yorkshire Terriers, these dogs can be of great help to people with anxiety. In fact, the American Kennel Club published a story about Winnie the Yorkie who visits sick kids at Brenner Children’s Hospital. Despite their small size, Yorkies have big hearts and vibrant spirits.

5. Pugs

Most pugs love to be petted and they give the love right back. They have a tendency to be happy wherever they are as long as their owner is there with them.

Pugs typically do not require a lot of maintenance and tend to be on the calmer side.

6. Great Danes

Great Danes are big dogs with big hearts to match. These dogs usually have the gentle temperament needed to be therapy dogs and they are also able to exhibit empathy towards humans with anxiety.

7. Great Pyrenees

A “Pyr” can also be a great therapy dog. Despite being much bigger than most dogs, this breed is extremely gentle and affectionate, soothing stressed out humans with their kind temperment. The National Pyr Rescue association also points out that these dogs are extremely smart and intuitive.

How to Find An Anxiety-Reducing Dog

Rescues and breeders all have dogs that can act as therapy dogs for people with anxiety. Despite our list above, it’s worth noting that mixed breed canines can also serve as great therapy dogs – although it often can be fun to discover your mutt’s dog DNA background and see if they have a bit of shepherd or retriever in them!

Of course, your specific needs must be identified before getting a dog. Many people prefer puppies; however, puppies require a lot of maintenance and training, so if you don’t want to commit to the enormous work and effort involved in rearing a puppy, an older dog may be a better option.

Dogs of all ages have a lot of love to give and enjoy receiving love in return. Just remember that all dogs need some walking (some a lot) and shouldn’t be left alone for too long.


The breeds outlined above are great for therapy dogs, but really any dog breed that fits your lifestyle and needs can be a huge stress-reducer due to the love and companionship all dogs provide by being in our homes!

About The Author: Meg Marrs is the Founder of Dog Breed Identifier, a website reviewing and comparing various dog DNA tests to help owners discover the hidden heritage of their four-legged pals!

Inclusion Connections and PawsAbilities

Executive Director Debbie Horn founded Inclusion Connections in 2013 in response to the need she saw in her son, Matthew, who has Down syndrome. There were few educational and social opportunities in Kansas City, and she believed his lack of job skills would limit Matthew from reaching his full potential.

Today, Inclusion Connections provides thousands of hours of year-round opportunities for teens and young adults with developmental disabilities in Kansas City. An Activity Center in Olathe, KS is the heart of IC, and a second group is located in Liberty, MO. Programs focus on: healthy nutrition, cooking and exercise; access to art, theater and music; job skills training and self-advocacy classes; and summer camps in both locations.

PawsAbilities program, implemented in 2016, offers young adults job skills training with the opportunity to make and sell dog treats, toys and bandanas. Participants also have the opportunity to help run a storefront in Olathe. Today, several local banks purchase PawsAbilities treats to give out in their drive throughs, and products are available in a variety of retail locations and veterinary offices. We have a booth at the Olathe Farmers Market each summer, and engage in other Kansas City events including the well-known Overland Park Holiday Boutique. Of course, PawsAbilities products can be purchased online as well.

With the help of many local businesses, individuals, and foundations, Inclusion Connections and PawsAbilities continue to grow and prosper! More information can be found at or