AdobeStock_114154977_edited_edited_edite

Playgroups

Medical & Behavioral Considerations

WHICH DOGS SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN PLAYGROUPS?

When choosing dogs for participation in playgroups, consider the following information when available. 

HEALTH

Ask your veterinarians to set specific guidelines for dogs who have:

  • Had surgery recently 

  • Not been vaccinated 

  • A contagious illness (e.g. kennel cough)

  • Open wounds or recently sutured wounds 

  • Other conditions that might make play painful or problematic (skin conditions, arthritis, orthopedic injuries, heartworm, etc.)

SIZE

Dogs should be roughly size-matched. A helpful rule-of-thumb is that no dog in a playgroup should be more than twice the weight of any other dog in that group.

BEHAVIOR HISTORY (IF KNOWN)

Review behavior history from owners, reporting parties who found a stray dog, and shelter staff.  

 

Examples of behavior history that should exclude a dog from playgroups include:

  • Killing another dog of similar size

  • Seriously injuring another dog (e.g. multiple deep punctures or lacerations requiring sutures). If such dogs love playing with other dogs and your shelter places them, have them play with a well-fitted and pre-conditioned muzzle.

  • A pattern of fighting with other dogs as the only type of interaction when given dog access

  • Predatory body language or behavior directed at other dogs (stalking that is not in play).

Example of stalking behavior

  • If unsure whether stalking behavior is playful, muzzle train the dog to allow further investigation

Behavior history that should not exclude dogs from playgroups include:

  • Non-injurious scuffles with other dogs

  • Minor injuries to other dogs not requiring medical intervention (shallow scratches or punctures that don’t require sutures)

Behaviors to consider & discuss that might exclude dogs from playgroup or require (pre-conditioned) muzzles if such dogs love playing with other dogs include:

  • Latch ons” (dogs who hold on for an extended period when they bite)

  • Killing or seriously injuring a much smaller dog

  • Fear and avoidance of other dogs

  • History of biting handlers who attempt to intervene in play

A Resource Provided by the PPG's

Shelter & Rescue Division

Underwritten & Designed by

© The Pet Rescue Resource 2020