Play groups are one of the most important aspects of how Alachua County Animal Services keeps dogs mentally stimulated and socialized, and how staff gets to know each dog’s unique play style and behavior. They use this information to find the best home for each dog.
Private rescues draw on the suggestions made by ACAS staff to decide which dogs to take into their rescues, whether to take dogs to adoption events, and what kind of foster homes would be ideal for each dog.
The information that staff learns also helps inform volunteers which dogs are good candidates for doggie day outs, which dogs would do well in which foster homes, and which dogs need extra help at the shelter for behavioral modification.
Watching the dogs run together is pure joy, but it also teaches us so much. We learn about how energetic dogs are, whether they are outgoing and robust or a bit more reserved, and who makes friends with who.
We often hear the word “dog-friendly” in terms of, “Is this dog dog-friendly?” or, “I need a dog-friendly dog,” but in reality, the concept of dog-friendliness is a bit silly.
After all, you wouldn’t say you’re not “person-friendly” just because you don’t like everyone you meet. People get along on a diverse scale. The same is true of dogs.
The way that dogs play and relate together in a group teaches us a lot. We can learn that a dog gets along with a particular gender, personality type, or individual dog. We learn that some dogs get along with most dogs, while other dogs are selective about the dogs they like to be around.
Some dogs give lots of indications that they don’t want to be around a particular dog, while other dogs give very few indications before they resort to growling or even biting.
Even the best guesses are still guesses, but an educated opinion does a lot to inform the ideal home and safe plans for each dog.
Information gained from play groups, along with information from day outs, fostering, and behavior in the shelter, all work together to form a plan for each dog.
This makes it more likely that a dog will not only find a home, but find the best home. It also helps keep dogs with potentially dangerous behavior problems from ending up in the wrong homes.
If dogs demonstrate consistent problematic behavior in play groups, on outings, and in the shelter, rescues are notified and asked to take the dog into a program designed to work on behavioral modification, with a foster family capable of handling any issues.
Play groups are just one of the many ways that Alachua County Animal Services works to enrich the lives and get to know the dogs that pour into their kennels each week. If you’d like to learn more, or get involved with fostering, volunteering, or doggie day outs, don’t hesitate to contact me.