I’m writing this week from the middle of a fascinating workshop presented by a group called the Shelter Playgroup Alliance. They have come here to share their experience with various forms of enrichment for shelter dogs, including how to safely create playgroups for the dogs so that they get to have social time with their own species.
The presentations so far have included a selection of inexpensive ways to entertain the dogs in or out of the kennels, some of which I’ll share here, and a quite detailed catalog, for lack of a better word, of how to read the signals and body language that dogs use to express themselves to humans and other dogs.
Tails, eyes, body stance, play bows and more all can tell us so much if we just know what we are looking for. One fun fact that you can observe in your own dog is that dogs really can “shake it off.” They sometimes use a full body shake to transition from one activity or emotional state to another.
You can see that when they get up from a nap, or are done with one activity and moving on to something else. I don’t think I had ever really noticed that before. The various signals that we learned about will help us to safely pair up dogs for play.
Just like us, not every dog wants to be friends with every other dog so it will be great to know how to recognize a good match!
One dog at the shelter who seems to like every dog he has met is young Tater. Tater is about one year old and has a lovely dark brindle coat and a very nice temperament.
He is calm around people and other dogs, while still able to enjoy a good game of fetch or a run in the play yard with his kennel mate Cali. Tater walks nicely on the leash. When we have had him out for walks with other dogs, he is a quiet observer until he determines that it is a friendly situation.
In his photo you can see how comfortable he is by his relaxed mouth and body position, with ears and tail in neutral, not up or tucked. It’s a little hard to see, but his back legs appear to be in frog position.
We see that more in the Pit Bull Terrier mixes and it never fails to entertain! This is such a sweet tempered boy; whoever adopts him will be very happy with their new companion.
Tater is neutered, microchipped and current on his vaccinations. He is available from the Humboldt County Animal Shelter located at 980 Lycoming Ave. in McKinleyville near the airport. More information on the available cats and dogs can be found at petharbor.com or by calling (707) 840-9132.