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Our Very First Doggy Date Day!

Many of you have followed along on our social media, seeing us post Dog’s Day Outs, when our staff or volunteers take one of our dogs on a fun adventure outside of the shelter for the day. We’ve had many people comment and inquire if they could take our shelter dogs out for the day, too, but we had not yet opened the program up to the public… until NOW!

Our canine team is always searching for ways to provide our dogs with enrichment, so we decided to host our first Dogs’ Day Out event in February! In honor of Valentine’s Day, we titled it “Doggy Date Day,” where community members could take our shelter pups out on a “date” and spoil them!  

During this event, nine dogs participated: Beef Cake, Bella, Carl, Duke, Dyllon, Monstro, Nala, Rajah, and Roxi. Four were long-termers, including Bella, who has been waiting more than 200 days to find a forever family. After a brief safety training and practice walk with their dogs, our participants headed out for a fun day! 


This program has many benefits for our team and these deserving pups. Opening it up to the public allows us to have more dogs participate. This event provides critical ‘canine enrichment’ for our pups. Happy Dog Training defines ‘canine enrichment’ as “modifying a dog’s environment to improve its quality of life.” The three main goals of canine enrichment are: 

  1. Increase behavioral diversity. 
  2. Encourage positive utilization of the environment. 
  3. Increase the ability of the animal to cope with challenges in a normal way. 


The shelter and kennel environments are very stressful and not a permanent place for an animal. As a shelter, we should be a temporary haven for animals until they are adopted into a forever family. When dogs remain in this environment for an extended period, they can begin to mentally and physically deteriorate. 


Hosting Dogs’ Day Out events provides endless benefits for the dogs (and people too)! Their minds and bodies are stimulated by traveling to new places and utilizing all their senses. They learn to engage in a positive way with the environment and people around them with correct guidance and attention. They receive affection and love, and if a dog is shy, they build positive associations with people and even other animals. Even the benefits of going out just for the morning or afternoon have a major impact on the mental health of our pups. 


According to authors Drs. Lisa Gunter and Erica Feuerbacher’s research through Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, dogs that went on temporary foster sleepovers in a home had decreased cortisol levels. When the dogs returned to the shelter, their stress increased back to their baseline, but not higher than before. Think of it almost like looking forward to getting off work for the weekend – even though work may be stressful, having a break allows us to reduce stress until we have to return again. This mimics the stress regulation methods for our dogs. 


It also helps us learn key information about each of the dogs individually, such as how they do around new people, if they have a prey drive for wildlife/small animals, and how they do in the car. This allows us to make better love connections with potential adopters and lessens the likelihood they will return to the shelter.  


We would like to thank everyone who participated in the first trial run of this exciting opportunity! These participants played a key role in the journey of our pups finding their forever homes. We hope to host more events like this in the future. For more information, please sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on social media.


University of Florida Health (2019, July 25). Are sleepovers and short-term fostering good or bad for shelter dogs? UF Shelter Medicine Program College of Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from  

Weber, R., MS, CPDT (2023, July 15). Canine Enrichment. Happy Dog Training. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from