Tag: Dog Socialization

Shelter Dog Play Groups?!?!

By Deborah Taylor-French on Dog Leader Mysteries

Dog Play Groups for Shelter Dogs?

Adoption (Photo credit: EndlessHorizons)

Now here is an idea we can use to help #shelterdogs be healthier, happier and ready for adoption. Please read the entire post on afureverfamily blog. Thanks.

Always adopt, never

shop for your next pet.

Waiting is hard to do.
Waiting is hard to do.


What a concept – bringing together groups of pups with different backgrounds and the baggage that comes from being strays or simply thrown away. It’s called “Dogs Playing for Life” and it’s a program developed by Aimee Sadler of the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. This program is being taught around the country to shelter and rescue groups who want to take the next step in exercising and socializing the dogs that will one day – hopefully – be a part of the larger community.

So, why am I talking about this program? Because the Wake County Animal Center (WCAC) is taking this step and as a volunteer I was able to join in the training this past week.

The classroom training was full of useful information about the benefits of play groups and the different play styles, so I just have to share some of these insights here.

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Time Out For A Shopping Dog: Photo Friday

Parenting your dog never stops.

This dog got a talking to while his dad shopped with a foster care Chihuahua in his hand. Amazingly, when this big dog received the command to take a time out on the cart, with no negative enforcement, the dog climbed up. Then when the dog didn’t take a down position, his parent reminded him.

Despite that the dog moved in slow motion, his parent didn’t lose his cool. And I had a lovely chat with the man, who told me about his tiny foster care puppy. Would that children could be so well-behaved. Especially, when you go out shopping with them.

What do you need to remind your dog to do (or not do)?

Does Your Dog Know Spanish?

Dogs may not be able to speak Spanish, yet they wait with ever-hopeful spirits.

My understanding of the word for waiting, esperanza is that this Spanish word carries at least two meanings. Esperanza conveys both, “I am waiting” and “I am hoping.” Dogs have much to teach us about hope.

Every dog lover knows dogs are always ready for more. More food, more fun and more new adventures. They look up when we stand, hoping for a walk. They follow us to the door looking forward to a car ride with us.

Dogs want to go when we leave on a bicycle. They long to run beside us or ride in a basket.

Water bark dogs

And when we go into the kitchen, they dog us from refrigerator to cabinet, often pointing their muzzles to catch any morsel we drop or choose to toss their way. Around mealtime, they pace underfoot showing both hunger and anticipation.

My own mutt, a fourteen-pound, mix of Poodle and Crocker Spaniel, puts himself between any door and me. He just wants to be sure I’ll invite him go with me. To bad for him, I cannot always bring him everywhere I go.

And he makes a fool of himself each him I put on his leash or car seat harness as if it were the first time and he cannot contain his joy. He shows me when he needs to play by seizing a fluffy squeaky toy then racing through the house, trying to start a game of chase.  He waits for me to pounce on the toy, seize it and give it a toss or start a game of tug.

I usually let him win. After all, he has to live in a house and not roam the streets, chasing cats and other dogs. We have a leash law in town. So Sydney gets to win at somethings. Dogs have a sense of fairness, so I want him to have a say in the things he can safely choose to do. There are many things he cannot do and we have house rules for polite behavior too. So I think it is only fair that he win most of his favorite games.

When I settle down to work at my desk, he naps but is instantly alert when I standup. Sydney bounds off the bed to show he is ready to go anywhere with me.
As most people know, dogs are social animals. Dogs hate to be alone, yet most dogs are left home alone, and often for long hours of boredom. Not given a choice or a voice in the affairs of their human family members, dogs live in a constant state of anxiety and hope.

The loneliness they suffer is not translated into any human language as they lay waiting, they hope for our return.

Social small dogs

Dogs At Water Bark – A Doggie Water Day At Spring Lake Park

Dogs seem to think in Spanish because they are always hoping and waiting. And when they get to play, dogs show glee, friendly faces and wealth of soul. If you don’t believe me just ask one of their people. Or look at these photos of happy dogs.

Over and over dogs know the meaning of waiting and hoping. What does your dog hope for?

Water Bark

No, not a weird type of water, I’m talking about Water Bark, a Doggy Water Day at Spring Lake Park. On this sunny October day, lucky dogs ran on the sand and swam in the Laguna. In celebration of summer’s end, Sonoma County Regional Parks asked for a donation of three dollars per dog. We watched three people registered their golden Labrador retrievers. As we passed, all the dogs kept their noses pointed at the water.

Water Bark

Dogs of all sizes arrived. People wisely shepherded most of the little dogs to a separate area. This made me glad. These people knew that size matters to dogs. Unless raised with large dogs, many little guys would rather play with someone that won’t crush them. Or hit them with a hundred pound paw. I have written about other differences between the social cues of big and little dogs.

These dogs sniffed cautiously. The German Shepard stood still and let the little guy go around him. When they finished, both dogs walked calmly away. This does not always work out so well.

This type of greeting can bring on an attack by the larger dog.

Especially if the little dog becomes aggressive, fearful or rude, the larger dog might try to correct his behavior or simply treat the small dog as prey. If you would like to learn more about keeping small dogs safe around big dogs, fetch my posts Wolfish or Puppyish? Dogs Speak and Dangerous Moments for Dogs.

As we stood watching, a well-groomed standard poodle arrived. Like the best of his breed, he turned out to be a calm, quiet and well-manner guy. Yet clearly, he wanted to join in the fun inside the orange-plastic fencing. He stood ready, watching and alert. I smiled at his patience waiting for his moment to go inside with the other dogs. Another similar sized dog sat behind, waiting.


Once the poodle and his friend entered, they plunged into the water, bucking and lunging. They swam around each other. They whirled. They lurched at one another, splashing. The poodle bolted on to the sand, bounded, and darted. Like a magnet he drew the other dogs after him. When he leapt back into the water, his buddy and several other dogs where in tow. He ran up the beach, zigzagging. The pack of young dogs stayed on his heels.

The poodle paused only to greet new dogs or lower his head and chest in a play bow. Frisky, he swept near others to entice them to a game of chase. We learned he was only two years old. And he had arrived with his camera-loving buddy. Well-matched for size, age and energy, these two stole the show.

Dog lovers relished the high energy, wild and goofy play.

The poodle and his pals charged out of the water then up to their people on the sand. The dogs shook and wet everyone.

Playing chase, dodge and dash, the poodle’s friend ran straight to my camera and shoved his nose at the lense. I pulled back in time to save my camera from being smeared by a wet nose. His person said, “He loves to have his picture taken.” So as I stood watching these two playmates, they repeated their circuit, punctuated by a lunge at my camera. I snapped dozens and dozens of photos, learning to guess when I might capture their sprawling frolic.