Williamson County is no stranger to DPFL, having completed their original Playgroup Seminar in 2019, they have been running playgroups ever since. Observing the benefits for the dogs firsthand over the past 2 years, Ondrea Johnson, WCAC Director was confident that offering the next level of leash and handling skills for staff and volunteers would offer more operational efficiency and play time for the dogs, but she discovered there were more important, although unexpected, benefits to be had. This is what Ondrea had to say:
“By working with our volunteers to help dogs with on-leash reactivity, “high arousal” (think dogs that jump all over you and mouth you), and shy/defensive dogs, this program will transform the time some dogs spend in our shelter. In the past, dogs in the shelter had spent almost 100% of their time in their kennel with very few opportunities for physical or mental stimulation, and that had to change.
In 2018, WCAC started by implementing structured kennel routines, followed by DPFL’s Playgroup seminar to train our volunteers on how to run daily playgroups. This year, through a generous gift from Friends of WCAC, Dogs Playing for Life spent seven days on-site, helping us learn to help the most vulnerable among our dog population; the jumpy-mouthy, on-leash reactive, or highly fearful dogs that enter the shelter and struggle with life in a kennel environment. The culmination of the week was a two-day Playgroup Seminar where several other local shelters participated in the training. I’ve already heard back from 2 of the shelters that implementing playgroups has changed the way they think about dog socialization.
The most unexpected outcome for us coming out of our time with DPFL is how enriching it has been for the staff and volunteers who work with the dogs. Seeing the dogs progress, learning that we can correct certain behaviors that keep dogs from being adopted, and hearing a quiet kennel with lots of dogs exhausted from play is the best reward for all the long hours we put into the dogs.”