A couple months ago I attended the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) Annual Conference in Cinncinati, OH. There, I listened to speaker Rise Van Fleet talk about the importance of play when working with shy and fearful dogs. By play, she meant playing with other dogs. In her experience, once the shy dogs began to play with other dogs, they were more likely to interact with their human family members.
I’m always trying to think up creative things to do or experiments when working with our puppy mill dogs to help them grow and become more self assured. After hearing Rise Van Fleet, I thought – how can we encourage shy dogs to play in a healthy environment and have a good experience? A dog park? Well, if any of you have been to a public dog park – you know it’s a free for all. It’s a good way for active dogs to release that energy, but would it really be healthy for a shy dog? Especially those that are afraid of people?
So, I thought to myself, why not create our own dog park just for shy dogs? Why not? We could open it to dogs who graduated from the Project Home Life program, get along well with other dogs and owners who are looking for an enriching, safe environment for their dogs to socialize with other dogs and people.
Because this was a brand new experience for me, for the dogs and for DVGRR – I decided to first open it up to Project Home Life volunteers who had adopted PHL graduates. We had our first Shy Dog Park on December 2nd, 2012 with 11 dogs in attendance! The dogs were great together and had fun! Owners equally enjoyed the time socializing with other owners of shy dogs.
Shy Dog Park will be held the first Sunday of every month from 11am-1pm. Because there may be a lot of interest, we may have two groups of play times – one from 11am-12pm and the second from 12pm-1pm. If you have a DVGRR adopted dog that participated in Project Home Life and would be interested in coming to Shy Dog Park, please email me at Heather@dvgrr.org.