John Griffin is the director of shelter services at the Women’s Humane Society in Bensalem, PA. They are committed to the humane and compassionate treatment of animals and are distinguished as America’s First Animal Shelter.
How to provide shelter enrichment and add social time for the dogs?
Because of our volunteer base, all of our dogs get at minimum walked twice a day and when we have enough staff and volunteers, we try to do more of a play date situation. We have two dogs that we know are dog social, we’ll get them and let them play off leash. It can’t happen every day because the staff doesn’t have the time or we don’t have the volunteer involvement. Dogs are social animals, forcing them to be around other dogs and not interact with them to me is probably not optimal for their quality of life. So they’re social animals and social beings, we should give them a chance to be social. Those dogs that are not social we shouldn’t force them to be.
Why socializing dogs in the shelter important?
I can’t imagine anything worse for a dog than seeing other dogs and people and not being able to say hi to them. This can build a lot of tension in a dog and frustration which may cause the dog to become more vocal and destructive in the kennel. That kind of a dog is not an adoptable dog. He is a lot more likely to get passed over.
Spending time with other dogs while at the shelter can make the dog be a lot friendlier and a lot more adaptable. If the shelter has had success introducing the dog to other dogs, it opens up more options for homes. If the dog is just building up more frustration and becomes unsocialized he is limited to the homes that can take him to homes that do not have other dogs.
Getting the dogs out for walks and to meet people and dogs can and will make the dog more adoptable because they are going to be friendlier, they are going to be better behaved in the kennel, and it makes the dog’s day.