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Why Playgroups?

We understand shelters and rescue organizations have limited time and resources. So, why spend these precious resources on playgroups? Playgroups are an opportunity for two or more dogs to socialize in a secure area. While playgroups require resources (see What do you need?) and carry risk (see Accepting Risk), running regular playgroups in a shelter provides many benefits.

DO MORE WITH LIMITED STAFF

Most shelters struggle with limited staffing. If well-integrated into routine animal care, playgroups can increase the efficiency of staff time use by:

  • Reducing the number of staff required per dog outing;

  • Increasing the number of dogs who can enjoy out of kennel time at one time;

  • Reducing time spent managing or modifying behavior problems stemming from insufficient enrichment, exercise, and access to other dogs.

 

GET TO KNOW YOUR DOGS BETTER

Playgroups give a unique window into dogs’ personalities and preferences. Valuable information that can be gained includes:

  • How the dog might fare at a dog park (and take the emotional and financial burden off prospective adopters to hire a trainer to assess this);

  • Safety with other dogs. Most dogs do little damage when in a scuffle, but if a dog is likely to gravely injure another dog, this information should be gathered at the shelter and not by an adopter.  

 

DECREASE LENGTH OF STAY & ADOPTION RETURNS

Decreasing length of stay is a high priority in many shelters, as is helping adoptions “stick.” Playgroups can help shelters meet these goals by improving:

  • Marketing of adoptable dogs. People love videos and photos of dogs playing!; 

  • Marketing of dogs to rescue partners;

  • Matchmaking with adopters using information obtained in playgroups;

  • Kennel presentation, by decreasing the risk of developing or maintaining behavior problems that can result from accumulated stress due to lack of enrichment and exercise.[1]

IMPROVE YOUR SHELTER OR RESCUE'S PUBLIC IMAGE

People love to see dogs happy and playing. Advertising your playgroup program can:

  • Improve public perception of your shelter or rescue and the quality of life you provide for the dogs in your care; and

  • Attract volunteer and donor interest in your programs.

To learn more about how to get started with playgroups at your shelter, see “Playgroups: What do you need?”.

A Resource Provided by the PPG's

Shelter & Rescue Division

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© The Pet Rescue Resource 2020