Long days of boredom can take their toll on even the most solid of dogs resulting in kennel stress. Handsome Dan's Rescue's enrichment program pairs on of our Volunteer Shelter Dog Enrichment Specialists with a dog in crisis.
We focus on dogs who may not make it out onto (or stay on) the adoption floor at our local shelters. Some of the common issues for dogs in our Shelter Dog Enrichment Program are; leash or dog reactivity, poor impulse control, jumping up on people, or dogs who have simply given up. Often shelters contact us first thing, for dogs who, for behavioral reasons, may not be ready to be moved to the adoption floor. Some shelters contact us later when negative behaviors associated with long term confinement arise and threaten a dog's "adoptability."
Once a match has been made between a dog in need and an HDR Enrichment Specialist, that volunteer spends several hours each week of one-on-one time working with the dog. They make that dog "his" or "her" dog. They visit in the shelter play yard, they go for walks, they train basic skills, and after each visit, they put them back in their kennel run with some sort of enrichment activity; a Nylabone, stuffed Kong, marrow bone, puzzle toy, etc. Maybe the most important part of this program is weekly participation in Outbound Hounds' C.L.A.S.S. Program. Enrichment Specialists take their shelter dog to C.L.A.S.S. every Saturday morning to work on their skills in a formal setting. Pit C.L.A.S.S. is provided free-of-charge to the dogs in this program through a partnership between Outbound Hounds and Handsome Dan's Rescue.
Our Enrichment Specialists go through a seven week training on dog handling, body language, behavior modification and more.
Our Shelter Dog Enrichment Specialists currently work with dogs at Providence Animal Rescue League (PARL), The RISPCA, Coventry, East Providence, Central Falls, North Kingstown, Bristol Animal Shelter, Scituate Animal Shelter, Attleboro Animal Shelter, North Attleboro Animal Shelter and Providence Animal Control. We currently have a waiting list for shelters to participate in this innovative program. If you are involved with a shelter and would like to have a Handsome Dan's Rescue Volunteer Enrichment Specialist work with your dogs, please contact us for more details.
How can you help? This is a very equipment-heavy program. Each participating dog is provided with a harness, collar and leash, bait bag, treats for all seven weeks+ of participation, and some sort of enrichment toy or treat each Saturday. That's a lot of "stuff." Please check out our Wish Lists if you would like to donate something to be used in this program. Thank you!