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Playgroups for Shelter Dogs

dog shelter playgroups
The Pet Rescue Resource Dog Playgroups toolkit highlights the importance of each dog’s comfort level and play style and also includes a range of video content to help shelter staff and volunteers better understand and decode canine body language © Can Stock Photo / raywoo

Barrier frustration is a common phenomenon…The barrier prevents the dog from accessing other dogs for normal social rituals, resulting in emotions of frustration that wouldn’t be present if the barrier were not present.

Barrier-frustrated dogs often play well with other dogs off-leash. This behavior occurs frequently in many shelters where dogs have limited access to other dogs.

Even professionals cannot typically eyeball whether aggressive behavior seen when dogs meet through a fence or when on leashes is “true” aggression or simply frustration. They look the same.

Unfortunately, this results in many dogs being labeled “dog aggressive” and missing out on playgroups at a shelter, or being adopted to “only dog” homes where they live lives entirely away from members of their own species, or even euthanasia.

It’s hard to underestimate the potential for lives saved by knowing how to introduce barrier-frustrated dogs. Again, these are dogs who love to play and are often completely misunderstood. In isolation, they decline rapidly and more severe behavior problems may develop. Over and over these dogs watch other dogs walk by their kennels and continue to experience frustration, day in and day out, with no relief.

(Issue 45, November 2020, pp.12-17). Read article

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