PAWS Chicago News item | PAWS Chicago

Raise the Rooftop!

Apr 13, 2022

This winter, we completed a full renovation of our rooftop deck at the Lincoln Park Adoption Center. This outdoor space is one of the most important things we provide for dogs while they wait for adoption. Renovations began last year when the previous amenities were showing wear and tear from years of use. The new space is nothing short of a dog paradise.

Dogs love to jump and climb. It’s in their nature! So, in redesigning this space, agility equipment was a priority. The big tunnel is perfect for chase games where dogs can run through or around it, and some even like to jump on top of it and feel like the king of the world from a higher vantage point. A ramp was also installed with a platform on top and space beneath for smaller dogs to take a break from play and decompress.

Different layers, textures, and spaces provide excellent enrichment for puppies and adult dogs, so we introduced lots of fun, new surfaces. The grass area gives traction for running, and the smooth tile surface is great for bouncing toys or cooling down on in warmer months. Plus, removing the flower beds increased our surface area for playing.

This is also an important space for introducing a potential adopter’s resident dog to a dog they want to adopt. The outdoor aspect of the space is more natural and stress-free than a walled-in, echoing room. The ability to sniff, run, and burn off energy during a meeting relieves a lot of the pressure when two dogs meet, and it leads to much more successful introductions.

Our staff and volunteers use this space for multiple playgroups a day, which not only gives the animals a break with some activity and socialization, but it allows us to facilitate animal care and cleaning throughout the day 

Dogs are pack animals and naturally social creatures. Even so, every dog has a distinct personality, so it’s important to organize each playgroup to set every dog up for success.

Staff pairs up dogs strategically based off size and play style, such as puppies versus large breeds, and mouthy versus shy and fearful dogs. Proper socialization involves making good matches, as randomly pairing incompatible dogs together can have a negative effect on how they approach meeting new dogs in the future.

Socialization is the most important use of the space. With so many dogs that want to be with other dogs, the rooftop space gives them the opportunity for healthy playtime and the ability to meet dogs from other rooms.

“Letting them run full out and meet other dogs is one of the most important things we can do for their behavior,” said PAWS Director of Canine Training and Behavior Joan Harris, “One of the biggest stressors that dogs have in the shelter environment is watching people and other dogs go by their rooms and not being able to naturally interact with them.”

Socialization is especially important for puppies, as this is how they learn to play without hurting, the force of their bite, and how to recognize social cues from other dogs’ behavior. As puppies prepare to enter new environments where they will constantly meet and see new dogs, it’s important to give them confidence so they approach new sights, sounds, and smells comfortably and keep that experience fun and exciting.

Help us continue to imporve our shelter spaces.