Shelter Dog Playgroups

Shelter Dog Playgroups

The sparkling jingle of splashing water, the rhythm of quick paws on dirt, the chorus of excited barks and yips … these sounds make up the daily, morning soundtrack for staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. From 8:30am – 11:30am, our dogs participate in supervised group play to help enrich their lives while they are here with us.

This daily “group therapy” is an exceptional way to provide blood pumping, muscle building exercise, build social skills with other dogs and learn appropriate ways to communicate with one another. The play time alleviates dogs’ frustration from being in kennels too long and also allow us to identify and understand important information about each individual dog that helps us to place them in appropriate homes.

Want to see photos, video and daily happenings from these important romp sessions? Below is a feed from When Dogs Play, maintained by our trainer (click on the title links to see video).

When Dogs Play

Emma is a short, female American Staffordshire Terrier mix and Buddy is a tall, male mix of who-knows-what.  They have a great time playing together.  When I watched this video the first time, I wasn't sure if I saw what I though I saw.  I watched it again and yes, Emma ran under Buddy!

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.
Posted: February 19, 2015, 1:50 pm
I love a diverse pack of dogs.  We have a mix of Great Dane, Bloodhound/Coonhound, Boxer, American Staffordshire Terrier and Mutt.


You can click here to see the video.
Posted: February 17, 2015, 9:22 pm
Just another fun day of play with dogs that just met.

You can also click here to view the video.
Posted: February 3, 2015, 11:59 am
Love watching these two crazy dogs play!

You can also click here to watch the video
Posted: January 29, 2015, 11:13 am
I was told that Pluto had been reacting to other dogs in a crazy manner, so I spent a little time with him.  It seemed obvious to me that playing with other dogs in Shelter Dog Playgroups would be highly beneficial for Pluto.    

Posted: January 9, 2015, 10:54 pm
Last week they had a home. Each returned, different reason. First time playing together @HumaneTampaBay #shelterdogs
— GlenHatchell (@HomeBuddiesTPNE) December 30, 2014
Posted: December 30, 2014, 8:11 pm
Olaf is the white 9-month old hound mix and Rigo is the dark 8-month old terrier mix.  Olaf might be the most playful dog I have had in playgroups.  This was part of their 20-minute routine during a rainy morning.

Click here to view the video.
Posted: November 26, 2014, 11:40 am
Nash McCutchen from HSTB and I visited the set of Daytime TV to talk about dog training. In this clip, I have Nola, a 5-month old hound mix that was returned to HSTB because she was too big. She had been adopted when she was 2-months old. I immediately put her into playgroups to watch her interactions with other dogs. I fell in love.

You can click here to watch the video

Posted: November 21, 2014, 3:13 pm
Watch Dexter as he greets other dogs and begins to play.   He was returned to the Humane Society for being too active. This is his first time in playgroups. This video shows how his play increased the longer he was out. The video was probably over a 20 minute period.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.
Posted: November 15, 2014, 1:06 pm
One characteristic of a dog who plays good with other dogs is that they take turns on which one has the advantage. In this video, Max lets Dean have most of the advantage.

You can click here to view the video.
Posted: August 18, 2014, 5:30 pm
Bambi shows off her talents.

View the video here.
Posted: July 29, 2014, 2:16 am
In January 2014, two dogs arrived from South Florida.  These feral-like dogs were captured by a rescue group, vaccinated and kept in a kennel until a new home could be found. Because of Shelter Dog Playgroups, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay decided to accept Copper and Todd.  Although the dogs were safe and had been cared for, no enrichment and very little human interaction had been provided.  Until they came to us.  
You can click here to watch video

In April, we received the following email. 
I adopted the brothers, Todd & Copper (Todd is now known as Zeus, and Copper is now known as Apollo!) They're doing awesome! They are very happy, spoiled pups! They get plenty of fun and exercise at my work, Camp Bow Wow, along with playing with my other dog, Hercules!

Being part of the Camp Bow Wow franchise system, I was doubly excited when I received the email.  

Posted: July 9, 2014, 5:33 pm
If there is another enrichment program that is more valuable than playgroups, please let me know what it is. This video captures what most playgroup sessions are like. There is a first-timer, a puppy, an unsure older dog and a mix of others. When we let them be dogs, Zen-like moments happen. 

You can click here to watch video
Posted: July 5, 2014, 12:46 pm
For many dogs, the shelter environment can be overwhelming.  These dogs might be hesitant when people approach or they might shown signs of stress around other dogs.  We use Shelter Dog Playgroups to help these dogs become more confident, and that usually means becoming more adoptable.  

You can click here to watch video

Posted: July 1, 2014, 11:38 pm
In the book Play, Stuart Brown describes the Properties of Play.  He writes that play is:

  • Apparently purposeless (done for its own sake)
  • Voluntary
  • Inherent attraction
  • Freedom from time
  • Diminished consciousness of self
  • Improvisational potential
  • Continuation desire

The dogs in this video would agree.

You can click here to watch video

Posted: July 1, 2014, 5:21 pm
Talking Animals is a radio program broadcast weekly on WMNF 88.5fm in Tampa, FL.  On June 18, 2014, I hosted the program and the subject was PLAY in animal welfare. I talked about Shelter Dog Playgroups at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and I interviewed Aimee Sadler, Director of Training and Behavior at the Southhampton Animal Shelter Foundation about her Dogs Playing for Life program. To listen to the program on the Archives, click here and select the 06/18/2014 program.
Posted: June 23, 2014, 11:33 pm
Posted: June 17, 2014, 4:33 pm

Posted: June 17, 2014, 11:20 am

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