The Importance of Play Groups and Socializing Dogs

Thanks to a great ongoing partnership with Maddie’s Fund®, the SPCA was able to build Maddie’s Play Yard a year ago. This play yard allows SPCA dogs to socialize with each other and run free in a large open space. It enables dogs to gain social skills, burn off energy and reduce stress thereby helping them become more relaxed when meeting new adopters. Most of all it is fun! Because of the dedicated work of staff and volunteers, our success rate for socializing and rehabilitating dogs has been highly effective. The SPCA believes in second chances and working with animals that other shelters might turn away. Not all animals have a great start in life, and because of negative experiences, they may develop undesirable behaviors. Through proper training and rehabilitation they are given a second chance at a new life.

The play groups are also effective for Meet and Greets, an opportunity for the new potential family to spend time in a spacious area. This also allows owners to bring their dogs to meet with a shelter dog they are considering adopting and this helps to avoid mismatches and less stress for the animals. Play groups provide more benefits than just walking the dogs. Some dogs have never been with another dog and don’t know how to play. The play groups help build confidence.

The SPCA enjoyed a demonstration from Aimee Sadler, Director of Training and Behavior from Southampton Animal Shelter in New York last year. Ms. Sadler provided onsite training for staff and volunteers so that SPCA could duplicate her methods.

One great example of a dog who staff and volunteers spent hundreds of hours socializing is Adella. Adella is a Pit Bull who came to the SPCA extremely fearful of people. Someone had home-cropped her ears with scissors, which caused her to be frightened and apprehensive of everyone and everything. She would sit in her kennel, head down and shake. Staff and volunteers sat with her, building trust. Eventually they were able to get her outside in the play yard, with other dogs. She was adopted by the volunteer coordinator at the SPCA. Today we consider her our Play Group Ambassador. She enjoys running around with other dogs and is so much more confident, leaving all of her insecurities behind. She is truly a new dog. We feel strongly about the play yard and the help it provides for many of our animals. But we do need assistance to make these yards better for the dogs, staff and volunteers. Since the play yards are used every month of the year, we need a permanent wind-proof cover for the dogs and volunteers to escape the hot sun in the summer and the snow in the winter. Reaching out to our community for support in making this happen would benefit this organization tremendously. It is one of many items on our Wish List. Everything we do is for the dogs and cats of northern Nevada. Helping us helping them is a wonderful way to make a difference in a rescue animal’s life.




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