Participants: Human

The following information has been adapted from material on the Center for Shelter Dogs website. A playgroup requires a minimum of two human participants. Each participant has a role to play. Each must adhere to their specific task, in order to facilitate a safe, managed and successful playtime within the group.

light bulb iconParticipants must have:
  • Ability to objectively observe behaviour
  • Canine communication knowledge
  • Training in safe and humane dog handling
  • Be in good physical health
Each participant involved must:
  • Carry a leash at all times
  • Carry a few treats in pocket (treats are used when attempting to lure or motivate a dog to do something when other techniques are unsuccessful)
  • Be aware of their surroundings at all times

In addition to the above, each participant involved must follow their individual role outlined below:

Leader: supervises the playgroup
  • Makes a list of dogs who will be in the playgroup and the initial order that they will be introduced to and removed from the group
  • Indicates on the list any dogs with special concerns
  • Checks the yard to ensure that all toys have been removed before playgroup starts
  • Wears a leader vest which contains all needed tools, see Safety Tools and Devices for Playgroup
  • Checks all tools to ensure they are safe and ready for use
  • Decides what safety equipment dogs need to wear (gentle leaders, leashes, etc.)
  • Supervises the introduction of all new dogs
  • Controls interactions and initiates action to intervene in conflicts between dogs
  • Reports on the dog participants’ behaviour and provides a summary to staff, which includes a list of dogs for the established and stable playgroup for the next day’s leader
Assistant: assists the playgroup Leader
  • Joins the Leader to provide assistance if requested
  • Wears an assistant vest which contains all needed tools, see Safety Tools and Devices for Playgroup
  • Lets the dogs in and out of the introduction area/gate
  • When not needed to observe/supervise dog interactions, the Assistant is responsible for picking up after the dogs as they defecate
Runner: brings the dogs to and from the yard; takes instructions from the Leader and the Assistant
  • Brings dogs on a leash and martingale collar from the kennel to the gate door as requested by the Leader
  • Brings the dog into the introduction area, when not occupied
  • Removes the leash from a dog if requested by the Leader. Opens the gate, so that the dog is able to enter the play yard at its own pace, without letting any other dogs into the introduction area
  • If the Runner enters the play yard, he/she needs to remove their treat bag (this is to avoid conflict amongst dogs over treats)
  • Walks the dogs back to the kennels
  • Takes instructions from the Leader and the Assistant regarding use of tools and which dogs should be removed from the playgroup and when
Observer: makes observations during the playgroup
  • Observes the dogs while they play inside the yard
  • Does not carry treats
  • Often an observer is present to

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