Shelter Dog Enrichment Program

Long days of boredom and the resulting kennel stress can take their toll on even the most solid of dogs. The Shelter Dog Enrichment Program run by Handsome Dan’s Rescue pairs one of our volunteer HDR Shelter Enrichment Specialists with a dog in crisis.

HDR focuses on the dogs who may not make it to (or stay on) the adoption floors of our local partner shelters. Some of the most common problems for dogs in our Enrichment Program include leash and/or dog reactivity, poor impulse control, jumping up on people, or dogs who have simply given up. Often, shelters reach out to us right away about dogs who are not ready to be moved to the adoption floor due to behavioral reasons; some shelters contact us later when the negative behaviors associated with long-term confinement arise and threaten a dog’s “adoptability.”

Every dog in the Program is evaluated individually and matched to a specific HDR Enrichment Specialist. An Enrichment Specialist treats their assigned shelter dog like their own until the dog’s forever home is found. An Enrichment Specialist spends hours of one-on-one time working with his or her dog; training basic skills, socializing, interacting in the play yards, and going for walks. After each visit, the dog returns to their kennel run with some sort of enrichment toy or treat; a Nylabone, stuffed Kong, marrow bone, puzzle toy, etc.

Maybe the most important part of the Enrichment Program is weekly participation in Outbound Hounds’ Pits and Pals C.L.A.S.S. Program. An HDR Enrichment Specialist takes their shelter dog to C.L.A.S.S. every Saturday morning to work on skills in a formal setting. Pits and Pals 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 Partner Shelters

Our Shelter Dog Enrichment Specialists currently work with dogs at:

There currently is a waiting list for shelters to participate in this innovative Program. If you are involved with a shelter and would like to have an HDR Shelter 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, treats for all seven weeks+ of participation, and some sort of enrichment toy or treat each week. That’s a lot of “stuff.”
Please check out our Wish Lists if you would like to donate something to be used in the Enrichment Program. Thank you!