In mid-April, some of our Eva’s Play Pups Team Members had the opportunity to once again work with and learn from an amazing organization called Dog’s Playing for Life (DP4L.) Founded by dog trainer Amee Sadler, DP4L travels around America teaching shelter staff and volunteers how to hold playgroups at their shelters, thereby enriching dogs’ lives and increasing their chances of adoption.

Our Canine Counselors Matt, Joella and Sarah attended this awesome workshop and were able to learn from the DP4L staff at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter (SJRAS).  They returned to camp full of energy and excitement, sharing all they had learned with their fellow team members.

The DP4L seminar is a three-day,  hands-on event where shelter staff learn how to set up safe playgroups for shelter dogs to enrich their lives while they are awaiting adoption.  This is actually the second time that Eva’s Play Pups staff have had the opportunity to attend a seminar like this and we are very thankful as our Canine Counselors have learned so much.

DP4L focuses on dog play styles and body language, as well as how to use calm and assertive techniques to help the dogs interact safely with each other in positive ways.  It also teaches techniques for de-escalating rough play and inappropriate behaviors as well as how to break up scuffles between the dogs. However, one of the most important lessons learned for us at countryside camp is how to assess different personalities and energies among dogs.  This enables us to set up safe playgroups that are enjoyable for all furry campers.

For example, an older, mellow dog might not enjoy interacting with a young, teenage, male dog who is constantly trying to play.  In this particular scenario, it might be better to put the young, energetic, male dog in a group with like-minded dogs who enjoy that kind of play.  The older, mellow dog should join a pack of like-minded, calmer dogs. This type of “grouping” is safer and more fun for both parties.

We would like to sincerely thank SJARS and DP4L for allowing our Canine Counselors to attend these seminars.   The knowledge that we have gained will not only help us be better caretakers to rescue dogs as well as clients’ dogs, but it will also help us when we visit our Southern rescue partners to save dogs from high-kill shelters.  We are now prepared to set up safe playgroups at these shelters so that we can choose good candidates for our rescue programs.

Shelters that use DP4L have experienced a noticeable increase in their adoption levels.  This extremely useful technique allows for large, serious-looking (often intimidating) dogs to show potential adopters their social and playful side.  Allowing any dogs’ true personality to shine through can often mean the difference between life and death for them. We encourage all those who believe in dog rescue and advocate for those dogs who deserve a second chance at life to donate to DP4L.   Any amount, big or small, will help this great organization to continue their work of making a positive impact in the rescue world. We at Eva’s Play Pups truly believe that this organization is making a tremendous difference in shelters all across America.

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