Pet Boarding & Daycare

Safely Managing High-Risk Events in Group Play

Safely Managing High-Risk Events in Group Play

By Professional Pet Boarding Certification Council

To keep dogs safe during group play, it is important to be able to identify and be prepared for key events that raise the arousal levels of dogs. Since arousal and aggression are closely linked, it is the responsibility of pet care staff to manage these events so dogs are not overly excited or aroused.

Dog Arrivals & Departures

As new dogs enter a playgroup or others leave, this can be a time of high arousal and excitement for most dogs. Many will rush to greet the new dog entering, or as a dog is leaving, may try to follow the dog out the gate. 

It is important for staff to maintain control of arrivals and departures to the playgroup by following these tips:

Rest Periods 

Rest periods are an important part of day-long group play. Without rest periods some dogs will not take breaks on their own and can become an annoyance to those dogs who are trying to rest, sometimes leading to aggressive behavior. 

Dogs are normally excited to join the playgroup after a rest period, so to ensure safety, remember to:

Staff Changes

During all-day group play, changes in staff are common so it is important to have a safety protocol in place for shift changes. 

Here are few key items to add to your protocol:

Visitors & Distractions

Many play areas are visible to facility clients, visitors or strangers that pass by. When people or other distractions are visible through fencing, it can result in arousal and excitement in the dogs during play.

Staff can reduce the arousal and maintain control during these distractions by:

Keeping dogs safe during high-risk events requires good leader skills. Staff should stay observant and alert at all times while supervising dog play. It is important they keep moving with the dogs and be consistent in enforcing rules and boundaries. They should set dogs up for success with proactive management and praise them for good behaviors. 


1. Off-Leash Dog Play: A Complete Guide to Safety & Fun by Robin Bennett and Susan Briggs

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