Dogs Playing For Life At The Burbank Animal Shelter

Last month, Dogs Playing for Life visited the Burbank Animal Shelter to teach staff and volunteers how to run canine playgroups. Why playgroups? Let’s backtrack. For as long as we can remember, the Shelter’s dogs have never had the opportunity to interact with each other. What’s more, most of our dogs exhibited a very pronounced aggression towards each other indicating they were not good with other animals and would be best adopted as the only pet in the household.

Canine socialization and exercise are of utmost importance for dogs in any shelter. Over the years, thanks to volunteers, dogs have been able to be regularly exercised and socialized. During the pandemic when volunteers were not allowed to come in, enrichment opportunities for dogs at the Shelter became very limited. It was during this time Shelter staff realized other canine enrichment opportunities were needed to keep our dogs properly stimulated and to help them maintain optimal mental health while they waited for their forever homes.

Dogs Playing for Life was the perfect fit. Late last year our three kennel attendants attended a weeklong training in Colorado and began implementing small scale playgroups. The effects of playgroups were astounding. VBAS offered to sponsor an in-house training to allow staff and volunteers a chance to learn playgroup theory and techniques which would allow the Shelter to implement regular canine playgroups on a larger scale.

During last month’s training which took place over a course of two days, a total of 26 dogs joined playgroup. Staff and volunteers were able to observe the trainers’ methods to introducing more dogs into playgroup and even had a chance to run playgroups themselves. It was a great opportunity to learn more about each dog’s personality and play style while observing the almost immediate positive change playgroups had on some of our more timid dogs. Canine playgroups have proven effective in allowing our dogs to let out a little steam in a fun way, keeps them adoptable, allows them better exercise and is time effective as staff are able to do this for multiple dogs. Possibly the best benefit of playgroup is learning that dogs we thought to be dog aggressive actually do well with other dogs, therefore improving their adoption opportunities.

The Burbank Animal Shelter staff and the Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter would like to extend our gratitude to our donors who made this training class possible. We are looking forward to seeing more volunteers participating with canine playgroups and hope everyone enjoys seeing our dogs playing for life.