Several staff members from Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL) are coming to Pima Animal Care Center for three weeks this fall. The group will teach volunteers and staff members how to run large playgroups with a high volume of dogs.
“Imagine taking a visit to your favorite dog park, watching 25 or 30 dogs run around, joyfully playing with each other,” said Kristen Auerbach, PACC Director of Animal Services. “Now imagine that every one of those dogs is looking for a new family. That’s what play group brings to PACC.”
The program, which runs Sept. 29 to Oct. 17, allows PACC staff and volunteers to learn more about dogs’ personalities in these play groups. DPFL is rooted in the notion that a dog’s natural instinct is to play.
The group says watching the dogs interact with one another is a “more reliable indicator of a dog’s true personality than the dog’s reactions during the intake process.” A dog that may be challenging to handle in the kennel, for example, will often exhibit healthy social skills in a play group.
“Play groups allow dogs to blow off steam and they help us really get to know each and every pup in our care,” Auerbach said. “Dogs are social animals and allowing them to interact helps keep them happy and healthy while they wait for their new families.”
It’s also beneficial to the dogs in other ways:
• They communicate with their peers and humans through playing.
• Socializing the dogs can help them if they are nervous around other dogs.
• The exercise can also help reduce some of the stress from staying in a kennel.
“This will introduce an entirely new way of meeting shelter dogs. Adopters will be able to come to PACC, watch a big group of dogs playing in a realistic, “dog park” setting and choose a dog based on real-life experience, rather than the old way of just seeing dogs in isolated kennels,” Auerbach said.
The training is possible thanks to the PetCo Foundation and the ASPCA.
PACC’s shelter, located at 4000 N. Silverbell Road, is open Monday through Friday, noon to 7 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.