I recently had the opportunity to travel to Chicago and participate in a multi-day training seminar called Dogs Playing for Life. At the seminar, we worked with over 100 dogs with high reactivity and dog aggression. I was so amazed at what this organization could do with the dogs and was astounded each day being able to view the dogs’ transformation after and during their playgroup sessions. Dogs Playing for Life stresses the consideration of the whole animal: physically, emotionally and behaviorally. Offering a more natural environment and comprehensive approach to the care of shelter animals helps organizations to better assess behavior, maintain healthy behavior, and support better adoption matches. The dogs’ safety and welfare are their main priority as they allow dogs to be dogs with little human interference. In addition to exercise and social interactions, play groups provide opportunities for enrichment, assessment, training, and behavior modification.
This program will soon be implemented at The Dubuque Regional Humane Society and will be more focused on our “longer stay” dogs as kennel anxiety and overall shelter stress can certainly take a toll on them mentally and physically. In the end, this is our primary role as humane societies; to provide care and a safe haven for all companion animals (no matter their shape, size or color) and support them in their transition into loving homes. Implementing daily playgroups has proven to be a win-win for people and animals.