October is Adopt- A- Shelter- Dog month! Our contest this months’ prize is a bandana (we’ll pick you something pretty!) and a treat bag (perfect for Trick & Treat time, at the end of the month!)
To enter, comment here or on facebook with a way you think shelter dogs would benefit from learning agility, and/or how your rescue dog has benefited from it.
Entries close on October 31st, and the winner will be announced on or around November 1st. Good luck!
It’ll help them exercise, get entertained and feel satisfaction.
We adopted Danny in July 2009 from a local rescue group. He is a very high-energy terrier mix with a love for jumping. He jumped over the sofa the first day we had him. It soon became apparent he had a lot of “issues” including that he had probably been abused. Our first trainer suggested agility to help with bonding and to improve his confidence.
We started with the little beginner agility set at home. That was enough to show us that he was interested. Danny liked it but he still had a lot of issues. We spent a lot of time with a behavioral specialist and attended classes. We worked on focus. It was then recommended that we start agility classes at our humane society. The classes gave us the opportunity to practice what we had been learning in class – focus is so important! But we also made sure Danny had fun.
All of the time we spend working together improves our bond. That’s something we don’t think he ever had before. Danny loves his agility classes and his trainer.It tires him out and gives him a good outlet for his energy.
Danny’s behavior has improved so much in the last few months that he has been taking agility classes. We are thrilled! The structured classes seemed to make a big difference. We are registering to enter our first competition in December (wish us luck).
What can shelter dogs gain from agility? Everything! Don’t forget – the humans benefit from agility, too!
Karen, Jeff and Danny
Agility would be wonderful for a shelter or rescue dog. The bond between dog and their owner would become stronger due to the one on one time together practicing. The dog would learn many new skills and would become more confident, and more pleasing to their owner and family. Agility works the brain and the body so it is a god send for the high energy dog to get some of that energy out in positive ways.
When you adopt a shelter dog, you save a life and you gain a new friend. But some shelter dogs come with behavior issues. Separation anxiety, mild aggression, and shyness are just a few of the problems exhibited by some shelter dogs. Many shelter dogs are high energy dogs. These high-energy dogs are surrendered to shelters because their owners do not have the time or knowledge to work with them. Agility – whether it is for backyard fun, formal training, or, competition can greatly enrich the life of any dog. It is especially valuable to shelter dogs and their people.
Agility is specifically wonderful for high-energy shelter dogs. Not only do they get plenty of physical exercise from agility, but they gain a mental work-out as well. Agility is an ideal activity for shelter dogs with behavioral problems. Through practicing agility, dogs get a boost in confidence which can help them overcome behavioral problems which stem from fear and lack of human socialization. Agility is perfect for improving dog-human communication methods. Even an older dog with minor physical problems can benefit from slowly trotting a jumpers course along side his person – with the jump bars on the ground. Finally, because the most popular agility training methods utilize almost exclusively positive methods, it’s nearly impossible for even a novice handler to make a training mistake that is serious enough to cause a behavioral regression in their shelter dog.
I adopted Mister Whiskers a year ago from our local humane society. He was an 8-month-old dog skeleton with skin stretched over him and long wisps of stringy fur hanging from his sides. He was terrified of everyone and everything, but he badly wanted affection and to work. We learned through a DNA test that he was mostly Border Collie, though he looks like a terrier. He had fear aggression issues out the kazoo. Long story short, amidst a string of behavior modification and reactive rover classes, we enrolled him in an “agility for fun” class. He loved it! He’s been doing agility every since. Once he’s on the course, he’s all business. His focus is on me and the course. Agility gave him an outlet for his incredible athleticism, his energy, his intelligence and his need to work. It has built our relationship and his confidence and it has given him a purpose. He’s only 18 months old, so we have years of fun ahead.
I have a rescue sheltie.When I found him he was emaciated with hair falling out from being so starved and left out in the elements heat, rain and the cold. I knew the minute I laid my eyes on him that he just needed someone to love him give him food and shelter,a warm bed and a family to call his own.We started agility to bring him back from his fears (which were many).Agility was the best thing ever for him.He now attacks the agility course with courage and pride. I have learned from my sheltie to push through my own fears! Adopt a rescue, these dogs are more greatful, more pleasing and so willing to work for you and show their worthwhile they are Grrreat!!!
My second sheltie is not a shelter dog, but was removed from her mother & siblings at a VERY early age. She never learned all the skills from her Mom that she needed. She was very shy & was terrified of her new brother.Since I have been doing agility with her, she has confidence now. We will start showing in agility in January.I’m so excited for her.
Agility training, like any other training, could make shelter dogs more adoptable. At a local shelter adoption event, I took some of the dogs out and did some jumps and low plank work with them while potential adoptors were there. I let some of them also work the dogs. This helped to show them an activity they can do with their dog and that even shelter dogs can learn a new skill quickly.
When I was doing volunteer training at a local shelter we would sometimes bring out a couple of jumps and a tunnel to give the shelter dogs something more active to do other than just basic obedience training because they had a lot of energy they needed to expend. It was really fun to see how quickly they took to doing something more active.
I’ve also done agility with my own rescued dogs. You can see how much it gives them confidence and a chance to think on their own.
I have two rescue shelties, one who competes in agility and one who runs agility in the backyard. Both of these dogs came to our home under socialized with no sense of purpose. Working with them in agility has helped them gain confidence and given them a job to do. This is extremely valuable for a herding dog. My competitive dog was given up as a young dog for “chewing the kitchen floor”. Now he wouldn’t even think of chewing anything in the house because he’s much more interested in working weave poles and tunnels in the backyard. Our casual agility dog has so many fear issues with people that she can’t even be let off a leash at a fenced in dog park. Doing agility allows her a wonderful chance to run full speed out. She seems to forget about what she’s afraid of as she flies over the jumps. Doing agility has allowed both of our wonderful dogs to rise above the circumstances of being kicked out and unwanted. What could be better than that!!
We have a total of four dogs; two registered Bostons purchased from breeders as puppies and two rescue dogs, one adopted at age 11 months and the other adopted at 6 years after being used and abused in a puppy mill as a breeding mama for 5.5 years and then surrendered to the rescue facility from which we first fostered and then adopted. All of our dogs have gained confidence in training as well as additional bonding with me. The most recent addition, the 6-year-old adoptee, is just completing beginner obedience and has done amazingly well for such a shy and nervous girl. I will enroll her in the next beginner agility and I am sure she will blossom further in her self-confidence. Our other rescue (adopted at age 11 months) has been in agility a little over a year now and thoroughly enjoys it. We have yet to Q at a trial, but she has a “tail-wagging” good time at each week’s class and for trials; she is a free spirit full of energy and has a genuine good time in agility. I’m not sure who is most excited at the end of a run; my dog partner(s) or me–Q or not, we all thoroughly enjoy it!
Our Australian Shepherd, Zosia, has earned 30 agility titles, and she’s a rescue that was living on her own near the river. When Zosia started agility training she was still quite timid, suspicious of the dark of night, and crept slowly across the dog walk. Agility has given her lots of self confidence and allowed us to build great team work together. She seems so happy after finishing a course run. Agility also helped lay a great foundation for pet therapy, and Zosia was just recognized with an honorable mention from the AKC, 2010 Award for Canine Excellence.
Boo was abandoned at a school with his three brothers when he was about 6 weeks old. He was a very shy, insecure puppy. I started him in agility when he was about 1 1/2 years old to build up his confidence and the difference is amazing. Although he is still shy around new people he is a much happier and relaxed dog and he really comes alive on an agility course. He runs and jumps with such pure joy. The best thing is when people point to him after a run and say “now that is a happy dog!”
I found an abandoned and shot starving border collie in 1999 outside of San Antonio. Whoever shot her destroyed one of her knees and she walks mainly as a tripod dog. After getting another dog who I started training in agility, I thought, what the heck, and put this older dog (then 9) into an agility class. Well, she loved it and showed me why border collies are so amazing at agility. She did ALL of the obstacles, running on 3 legs and moving quite quickly (to the horror of the trainer who always thought she was going to fall off something) and you could just see the joy she had while doing this work.
It also made her a much less reactive dog as she had to get used to other dogs who would run off and then approach her.
I think training rescues in agility training builds their confidence, builds a relationship with their human trainers that becomes stronger with time, and lets them experience a type of freedom and joy not found in other training venues. Am all for it!!!!
Agility is excellent for rescues. Some rescues are abuse cases or negligence. You never know what you’re getting ( more the fun of a surprise to learn by ^^). I have one that was so scared you threw a ball and he’d go running. He was also problematic ( tearing up trash, clothes, toilet paper rolls). I worked on basic obedience first, that is the start of ANYTHING you do with a dog. it shows them that you are in charge of “the game”, and it builds a good foundation for a relationship. ** NEVER dwell on a dogs past!!**. Anyway after that start working on agility and their mental stimulation/physical stimulation/confidence and happiness will all start going up at the same time! It’s so rewarding to watch! This is not only for rescue dogs but any dogs that have confidence issues or are shy.
My reactive rescue mini-Aussie came to me 3 1/2 years ago, 10 pounds overweight and totally unsocialized. She rolled her eyes back in her head and screamed and snapped at just about everything. I got the weight off her and started “home schooling” her in agility. Eventually with the help of some very patient friends and instructors, she was able to attend small group classes. At the same time, we worked very hard on her self-control and ability to be around other dogs. She came to love agility so much that I could use it is a reward for her self-control, and finally last November she was able to calm herself around other dogs well enough to enter her first CPE trial! She absolutely loves agility, and has recently earned her Level 1 CPE title. We have to be selective of the venues we choose, and of course will always have to be “environmentally vigilant”, but agility has completely changed my little Roxy’s life for the better!
Daisy, my Border Collie rescue, came to me with no knowledge of commands, how to play, or even housebroken at 3 years of age. For some time I thought she might not ever learn, though she was loving and velcroed! I introduced her to agility and her brain woke up. As she began training over the obstacles, she learned to focus on me and on her “job.” This past weekend she earned her first leg in CPE Colors-Level 1 and took first place in her class. Her first trial!!
She is living proof that agility can resurrect a neglected/ abused adult dog.
Her favorite obstacle?? The teeter – balancing at the fulcrum with her tial waving and a big smile.
I have four rescue dogs and they all love agility! I believe agility helps them build confidence and trust. If they were somewhat unsure or shy the training helps bring out their inner “dog”. They learn new things are okay and you are there to guide and help them if they are not quite understanding of what is being asked of them. Dogs are so happy to please most of the time (I know some of them are not in some cases) and the rewards of treats or toys or praise is what a lot of these rescue dogs have been lacking in their previous life. Agility training can bring all this and fun too for some of these wonderful dogs. I know my Sierra who is totally people shy and even still has some confidence issues at the larger agility trials….but she gets out on the course and is all business ~ loves to jump and run thru those crazy tunnels. It has been a wonderful thing for her and a great job for a fearful little cattle dog.
I have two rescue dogs, both corgi’s, and both run agility. First there’s Coco. We’re not sure of his past, but know he had some tough times (came to us with a completely bald chest and tummy from being crated for 12 weeks with barely any out of crate time). Agility has given him incredible confidence. We started training approximately 2 years ago, and competing 1 year ago. Today he is gaining points and 2Q’s towards his MACH. He’s an amazing companion.
Then there’s Teddy, Coco’s total opposite! Teddy was a whirlwind of energy and fun. Zoomy was his middle name. Agility has made him grow into an obedient little bullet! He still gets zoomies once in a while, but that’s ok because it just looks like he’s having SOOOO Much fun! The rest of the time, he’s tearing up the course. Agility has given him the perfect outlet for all his energy and keeps him happy because he knows there’s always going to be time for play. We are getting ready to foster another pemmie (girl this time), and I don’t even bat an eye when considering whether or not to adopt a rescue…they just need the chance.
My australian shepherd and spaniel mix was living on the street at a truckstop, begging for handouts when she was rescued. She was a shy, but lovely young dog, and I fell in love with her at first sight.
She was a very active and prancy girl, so I named her Kayla, after the word “Ceilidh” (pronounced KAY-lee), which I learned is Gaelic for “gathering for the dance”. After a few months, I saw that Kayla was avoiding contact with people, except for her family. She had also begun barking and lunging at other dogs, so I enrolled her in an obedience class. She was labelled as “fear reactive”, and I had to watch her constantly to try to prevent her from reacting.
Kayla improved a good bit with obedience, although she was still reactive. I knew she needed to continue training around other dogs and people in order to keep getting better, so when I was invited to join a beginning agility class I jumped at the chance.
Kayla panicked during our first agility class, first trotting in circles and sniffing and salivating, then freezing and refusing to move. I learned that sniffing and running around is a common sign of nervousness. Knowing that agility is a great confidence builder for dogs, I kept at it. It took Kayla several months to begin to see that agility is fun, and to learn that just about everything she does on the agility course earns her praise and, usually, a treat.
Patience and perseverance paid off, and now, after 15 months of training, Kayla looks forward to her turn on the course. Her reactivity has greatly decreased and she plays with some of the dogs in her class. She walks right up to people and makes eye contact without fear. She has become a confident, focused athlete. Also as a result of agility training, Kayla and I communicate well with each other, through eye contact, motions and words. She loves to hear me say, “Are you ready? Let’s go!” We are true partners who deeply respect and admire each other.
We are entering our first agility trial at the end of October. Regardless of the outcome, simply being ready to enter is a gratifying reward for me and my brave little partner, who continues to blossom all the time.
agility is great for all dogs i no of rescue dogs that hold national titles how much more could you ask for
I volunteer at a local animal shelter and I can tell you that all of the dogs can benefit from any training;-). I’m still amazed at the amount of focused attention you can get from a dog that has just met you. Many are soooo ready for a handler to teach them anything. They blossom when someone pays attention to them and reward that person with willingness to learn. It would be great to have a small agility course available to do some training and help the dogs run off the energy that accumulates as they sit in the kennel waiting to be adopted. Successfully working a course, even with lots of treats and help, can really boost a dog’s confidence in himself and his handler. And, of course, any handling that can be done by shelter staff will only help the dogs transition from kennel life to life with a family. It is heartbreaking, though, to see the look on their faces when you have to put them back into their kennel run. Their dismay is real.
The question is “how can agility training help a shelter dog?”. As an agility adict myself, I can attest to the bonding that happens during training of any sort. My first agility dog was a shelter dog. Agility not only encourages teamwork between the human and the dog, but it also fosters trust and that is what makes the dog “your” dog. A dog that trusts you will do anything for you and that is an awesome responsibility. And, wow! As the training “sinks in” with both the dog and the handler, the result is magic! Words just can’t describe the feeling of running a course with your dog as he watches you for instuction and you watch him and read his body language as he takes your cues and performs a clean run. There’s no Q like a ResQ! Visit your local shelter and take home your next best friend!!
Kim K and Caesar and The Ragamuffin
Many dogs are given up because they are simply too energetic for the family they live with. Agility is perfect for many of them!
My own dog was given up by a woman who said he was too hyperactive. And he was a firecracker when we got him from the shelter – full of energy and super reactive to everything, everywhere.
He took to agility like a duck to water. It helped him gain confidence, gave him stuff to think about and fun games to play. Along the way we’ve had to work very hard on his reactivity in order to go to classes, meet new people and go to trials.
He’s not perfect, who is, but he has blossomed because of agility and I’m incredibly thankful to be able to have that relationship with him. It’s made him a more confident dog, able to control his impulses and just the depth it has added to our relationship is the cherry on top.
I think it would be awesome to teach shelter dogs agility! It would greatly benefit them in finding a home. Agility would teach them to work very well with people and follow commands good. It would also give them a way to drain energy which would make more of their real personality come out. I volunteer at the shelter and so many times the dogs are jumping and barking and people just pass them by. Once you get them out of their cage you see that they are great dogs! I think it would be awesome if shelters could get some agility equipment and set up a course for volunteers and dogs to work with. If shelter dogs knew some basic agility it might also help more find homes with people who are looking to find that great agility dog!
I have a rescue that was not properly socialized and has HUGE issues with people. I was on the verge of not knowing what else to do when he started basic obedience classes at my local humane society. After he mastered those and got really annoyed and bored with others practicing I tried him in an agility class. His confidence went through the roof. He isn’t perfect around people but we can pass people without him barking and freaking out at them. He has learned to have other people run near him and even sometimes at him while we are waiting our turn in class. This last week he was so calm in agility class while waiting his turn he was lying down with people running past him totally relaxed and calm. Agility has saved him and given him the confidence to be around people. Of course now if we don’t have our weekly training session he is a total pill! He loves agility and it has been great for rehabilitating and other wise crazed dog.
I have 4 rescues, and two of them are in agility training. They are both high-energy Keeshonds, and I find the training is a way to focus all that energy, and give us a venue to play together and bond, one-on-one. Bandit is a little ADD, and agility has really helped him to focus. Kola is just over-the-top high energy, and the mental and physical exertion helps her to drain some of that energy, and relax, even if just for a little while! They both love agility so much, they come and get me when it’s time for their afternoon training sessions, so it’s good for my wellness program, too!
I currently have 2 mix breed shelter dogs and they both do agility. My older dog has made it to Excellent B in AKC and has his UGRACH in UKC. My younger dog is still a work in progress. Both dogs and I have benefited from agility because it creates such a wonderful relationship. I think all dogs that enjoy agility benefit from it regardless of their breeding or where they came from. In the end, they are all just dogs that need our love and care.
I adopted a mixed breed named Mathilda from a local no kill shelter here in St. Louis just over 3 years ago. She is the funniest looking 40 lb mutt, but so sweet and incredibly smart. She has a ton of energy. We had initially started with Flyball to use up some of those smarts and energy, but I could not take all the BARKING!! We tried agility, and while she was not quite as enthusiastic about it initially, we have definitely hit that same level of interest and fun for her at this point! We have been training for about 2 years I guess, and have our Novice Standard Agility title, and just got our Open Jumpers title this weekend! We have so much fun, and it has made our bond that much stronger. My only issue…I am thrilled that the AKC has decided to allow Mixed breeds to compete…but leaving it up to the clubs to decide is unfair in my opinion. Everyone we are in classes with, they can compete in 100% of the trials…we only are allowed about 50% of the time. I am a very competitive person, and this means we are not allowed to compete at the same level as everyone else, since we are excluded so frequently!
Regardless, we might start competing more seriously in some of the other venues offered, such as CPE and USDAA,as both of these groups hold trials in my area (just not as many as the AKC!). Agility is great fun, and I have seen more than once, a shy, non-confident dog turn into a much more self-confident animal over the course of six weeks, while they take agility. I highly recommend it!
I have a shelter dog. And we’re doing agility with her. And the one big way that I think it really has helped her and other shelter dogs is that it increases confidence. My dog was never a really shy dog, but in just the few months that we’ve begun agility, she’s showing MUCH more confidence in her actions. It also helps the bond between human and dog. I wish I had begun agility when I first got her!
I believe that rescue dogs would benefit from agility by working with other dogs and people to help them through their social structure and lifestyle change. It would help them become more relaxed in a fun and exciting enviourment as well as interacting with places and people they don’t know. I have a rescue dog and she was VERY shy when I adopted her. We have been doing agility for 2 yrs and competing for one. She loves playing what we call Gility together. She gets all excited when I ask….” Wanta play Gilities?” She now holds her first title in Snookers (USDAA) and has 2 legs in Jumpers. It has made her a better canine citizen!