Since day one of APA! we’ve struggled with how to make our dogs happier during their time with us. Our volunteers have been amazing – walking the dogs every morning and night, taking them out during the day for cuddle time or even a field trip.
But despite all this human attention, many of our dogs still weren’t getting a key part of improving their mood and overall lives and making them more ready to move onto their forever homes. They’ve been missing out on group doggie play time! We had Aimee Sandler from Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, Colorado come to APA! last week and show us how to lead play groups that not only enrich their daily routine, but also help them to learn key dog social skills that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Before Aimee visited, most of our dogs that stayed at the building would have one on one play-time occasionally. But we were putting them with another dog that exactly matched temperaments and play styles. They weren’t really learning anything, just getting some energy out.
All of our dogs come to us with unknown histories, maybe they never had a positive interaction with another dog, or maybe they like to play rough but don’t know how to react when another dog lets them know they’re not into playing. Play groups will allow our dogs to learn these social skills that may have been missing from their lives before APA! And in the end, make them happier and even more adoptable!
So how does this change APA!’s needs and operations and how can you get involved with this awesome new addition to our program? Our morning walking program is now part walking, part playgroup. So each morning at 7am we will have some dogs involved in a playgroup in our yard, while others are out walking. We are always in need of more volunteers for morning and evening dog walking. Hopefully, if we get more volunteers, we can have multiple playgroups happening in the morning, perhaps one calm play and one more rough play.
We are also working on getting a daily afternoon playgroup started for some of the more difficult dogs that stay at our building all day. We are looking to recruit and train volunteers to take on the role of managing the afternoon playgroup.
The eventual goal is to have every dog that is old enough and healthy enough and interested in playing be in a playgroup at least once a day.
If all goes well, we hope to even be able to use our playgroups to help dogs who have been adopted from us and are having dog/dog issues in their new home.