There’s a new program within the Dog Behavior Program here at APA! called #TeamSnuggle – and it’s just as cute as it sounds. #TeamSnuggle was created to meet the needs of puppies who are under five months old and living in the kennels. Often these puppies are post-parvo (healing from the after-effects of parvovirus) or on disease watch for ringworm or mange and have slightly longer stays than their puppy counterparts.
The first few months of a puppy’s life are critical to their development, and since they’re too young to take part in our other enrichment programs for the older dogs, and on these health watches, they were missing out on human and dog interaction.
“I was starting to see unsocialized, scared puppies,” recalls Anne, our Dog Program Manager. “I knew we needed to do something to help them.” And so, #TeamSnuggle was born to address this issue. By training volunteers on how to gear up and safely enter the kennels without spreading disease, they’re cable to give these puppies the socialization they need to succeed in life outside the shelter.
The goal of #TeamSnuggle is to give the pups the playtime they crave and need, as well as give them the chance to learn basic manners and obedience. Walking by the puppy kennels every day and seeing those big, young, and curious eyes stare up at you, wondering what the world was all about, we knew we had to do something to help them: “We want to teach them that humans are wonderful and mean love, thereby reducing the effects of being at the shelter and hopefully make them more adoptable,” shares Anne.
Nicole, the program coordinator for #TeamSnuggle, explains that so far she’s seen great success with this new program: “I have seen lots of positive outcomes for not only the puppies but the volunteers. Nothing is more relaxing and satisfying as snuggling a puppy that really needs your love! We now also have many cute pictures of the puppies that go online and on the database that really help to market them!”
One puppy in particular pulled on Nicole’s heart and showed her that the effort put into initiating this program is worth so much more than initially realized: “There's a puppy in the kennels named Randy. He used to hide in the back of the kennel and not come out, which doesn't help when potential adopters come through because they can’t see him. After he had a few visits from #TeamSnuggle, he was so much more relaxed and happier, and he'd come right up to the door and greet people!”
Anne echoes those same testaments: “The puppies LOVE the attention as much as the staff/volunteers love snuggling the pups! It helps us see health or behavioral problems early on, and because they are more socialized, they come up to the front of the kennel for attention which should help reduce their length of stay. Also, the public seeing people in the kennels shows that even though they may have ringworm or mange, they are still just normal pups needs a loving home!”
As you can see from the photos, everyone is feeling happier with the creation of #TeamSnuggle. No matter how young or old the dogs in our care are, we do everything we can to make their stay with us the best it can be.
To help us continue programs like #TeamSnuggle, please consider giving today. While we currently have a full #TeamSnuggle team, we do offer many volunteer opportunities to get you started working with the incredible pets in our care. If you’re interested in kicking off your volunteer career with APA!, learn more, and apply, here!