Volunteer Highlight: Playgroups

A few months back, we featured volunteers doing numerous things around our campus, and we featured Candy Brown who is a volunteer adoptions counselor. We figured we’d highlight another wonderful aspect of volunteering with our canine friends; playgroups! Playgroups are a wonderful way for our dogs to get some exercise, have fun, make new friends, and enjoy a break from shelter life! While the videos and picture provided will only feature dogs, we’ll tell you a little bit about the volunteers who regularly run these fun play sessions.

As pictured above, playgroups can teach us a lot about how dogs behave around other dogs. We do testing to see how they get along when canines are first brought in, but playgroups can provide some more detailed information. Do they like other dogs? Do they LOVE other dogs? Do they perk up at the idea of having a playmate? Another aspect of learning during these sessions is we can see a play style. Does the dog play gentle or rough? Do they take corrections well? Dogs playing may look a little aggressive, but you can quickly tell the difference between rough play and aggressive play. Check out the link below:

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While you see a lot of teeth and jumping up, notice the body language. Tails are up, eyes are relaxed, body is relaxed. They take a few seconds of breathing breaks, which is a good sign they are having fun! Even tongues can show that it is nothing to worry about, such as if they are hanging off to the side of their mouths. They are having a howling good time! (Excuse the pun.) We do most of our playgroups in our Agility Park, and we have some fun obstacles for dogs if they want to try those out. Check out the movie below:

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You see one of the dogs jump over a pole! Notice how halfway through the video, they are touching, but they take a few seconds of still positions. They are taking a break, while seeing who is going to make the first move to play again. It is really fascinating that they communicate solely through looks and body languages. We do playgroups all year-round, during all of the seasons. Dogs seem to enjoy the summer playgroups, because we set up pools for them; the ultimate cool-down!

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Those dogs are really enjoying that pool! You might be wondering how we determine which dogs might benefit from playgroups. We keep a board in our dog area that keep track of every dog we’ve tried. We give them “yes,” “no,” or “re-try.” Some dogs don’t play well, and some do, and some might be having an off day, or just had surgery. Dogs are not allowed to play with recent stitches or certain illnesses or infections they may have, but liking other dogs is a must! Our volunteers bring whistles with them just in case a fight might break out, but those rarely happen! We sometimes have large playgroups with more than two dogs; and those can be a blast!

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The way they all stop and go immediately is so funny! We have a good amount of volunteers and staff who run playgroups, but here are some volunteer testimonies of how much this benefits both the dogs and humans:

“The dogs can forget they are homeless and enjoy playing with their dog friends for a few minutes.”

“Love seeing pure dog joy.”

“Seeing dogs who are so fearful come to life when they have a chance to play with other dogs.”

” I love seeing the dogs enjoy spending time making new friends and just learning how to have fun ‘being a dog.'”

” It’s a fantastic energy release for the dogs. 20 minutes of playtime is amazing exercise.”

“I love the bond we made with fellow volunteers.”

It’s not just great for the dogs, but most of these volunteers have become friends through Wayside and their volunteer programs! We couldn’t do this without them, and we appreciate all the dedication they have towards our Waifs. Thanks for giving our dogs a break and allowing them to make new friends!

Please feel free to visit us during our adoption hours!

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: 12pm-8pm
  • Thursday: 12pm-8pm
  • Friday: 12pm-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn J.


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