Does anyone have successful rehoming and training successes with shelter dogs?
I not only want to put a feature in AlaskaDogNews.com about it, but also work on my own dogs. I've had several requests for that kind of info.
Two years ago I decided to try to rescue Labs and train them to work.
Here is what has happened so far.
Molly the first rescued Lab retrieved with a little enthusiasm. In fact, her best retrieve for an entire year was when we first met her. After about 3 weeks I started my usual force fetch routine and it failed miserably. She is a sweet dog but not real driven. She obviously had been bred a lot. I tried ramping up the pressure then backing off. Still she shut down and would not retrieve anything. I was advised to give up. But if a bumper was thrown into the water stand back, she was all over it. Over the next year Molly started getting excited to retrieve anything in the house but a bumper. A toy, rubber Kong, glove, but the moment any pressure was placed on the item she quit. Slowly, by rewarding each retrieve with kind words or a treat she showed more interest in retrieving. Now 2 years later, she fetched a bumper outside,from the ground on command. I started throwing her a bumper a few times a week, no more than 4 at a time. Now she was getting manic about her toys, fetching them, bringing them to me. I was able to transfer that enthusiasm to the bumpers. We have had a few sessions of lining to a pile having to correct one retrieve out of 5 ,mixed in with a happy bumper. We will try birds here shortly. She is a good DockDog jumper too.
Bailey is our newest rescue. I am 95% sure he is full Lab. Possibly some show lines in there with his massive head square head . He was allowed to run loose for the first 2 1/2 years of his life breeding all over the area. He is the kind of dog I like to train. Dominant, forceful, with a soft side and easily corrected. He seems to have no desire to retrieve bumpers, balls or any other item except a plush toy. I have been using that to show him to bring it back to me. I think that retrieving is way down the line for this dog. We have to break the bolting and wandering habits first.
Most field people would throw these dogs away. I think they can be saved and retrained. Im sure the desire is there, just sleeping.