Is this a good policy for rescues/shelters?
Why do rescues/no-kill shelters discourage and/or outright ban protection sport training?
I am curious about this. Several rescues/shelters in my area specify that a dog adopted from them cannot be trained in protection sports. I just note that this applies to all breed and breed specific rescues/shelters. Before coming to this forum, I didnít know anything about these sports and I donít know anyone who takes part in these sportsÖ So, I really didnít have an opinion one-way or the other.
If pressed, I would have hypothesized that these policies exist due to one or all of the following:
-Potential for abusive training practices?
-Liability the dog would pose with incomplete/poor training?
-Avoiding adopters who see the dog as a protection tool versus a pet?
Having followed this forum for a while - and learned more about what the training seems to entail Ė I guess I am now even more curious as to why rescues/shelters have these policies.
It seems that a lot of people on this forum see it as just one of many dog sports you can do to have fun with your dog. And, it sounds like the foundation of these sports is obedience training. In my opinion, these sound like good things.
Of course, there are certainly others who take the whole thing a lot more seriouslyÖ but, these people - in their unending quest to acquire the perfect protection sport dog -donít seem like the types that would be interested in adopting rescue/shelter dogs.
So, what I really want your opinions on is whether you think this is a good policy for rescues/shelters to have? Should those of us who work in rescues/shelters seek to change policies like these or advocate for them?
Should it be conditional? If so, what would you suggest a shelter/rescue look for in a potential adopter to allow for an exception to the policy?
So, since nobody commented, I will assume that the rescue community thinks this is a good policy. I am fine with that. As I said, I do not have an agenda in starting this thread, I was just trying to understand the rationale of the policy. I am someone who has to explain the policies of rescues/shelters to potential adopters... So, I just wanted additional perspective from those who are a lot more active in rescue than I am.
I just saw this post. I believe the rescue/shelter policy is due to ignorance for the most part. I agree with your assessment!
Bad training happens far too often to dogs that shouldn't have been trained in protection due to their temperament.
Anytime you hear bitework or fighting involved, the dog will usually be deemed aggressive.
I know of a dog(he may still be in limbo, not yet adopted) who's owner passed and he was rehomed, just to be failed and put in a shelter. The deceased owner had trained him in SchH, but I don't think ever put a BH or title on him. I don't think he could/would have passed the 1 due to his temperament. And I don't think anyone let on that he had this training in his background(but it may have come out).
Just look at the dog for what it is, not what it was, is my motto. How many times do we say leave the baggage behind, and focus on the future when it comes to rescues?
I'm not in rescue, so can't comment from that perspective, but I think your analysis of the situation is accurate. I also think that most people who come up with such policies are just misinformed of what protection sports are all about. It certainly isn't about making a nice dog into an indiscriminate, uncontrollable biter, but that is often how the general public sees it.
I don't really understand the reason for having such a policy: I can guarantee that 98% of the population has never heard of IPO or SDA or Ring Sports, and as you have surmised, those who are interested in being active in those sports will not very likely seek to adopt dogs from rescues but will look at breeders and other people active in the sports for sourcing a dog.
Most shelter dogs, the vast majority being from BYBs, wouldn't have the right temperament for protection sports anyways. I can see a lot of issues though with shelters/rescues adopting out to people who would want to pursue protection sports, because the shelter/rescue staff may lack the experience to properly evaluate the dog for suitability (and thus ensure an adopter that yes, the dog can do the activity, when it cannot), and may really not have the tools or ability to evaluate which type of training is correct and safe, and which is not.
I would think that people only wanting to get a dog because they want an attack dog would be eliminated through the rescue's regular screening process.
I think you are right that such a policy would NOT affect their ability to to adopt out dogs to the right homes, but at the same time, it could result in preventing an owner and dog from finding the type of training and work outlet needed to fulfill the needs of a high energy/high drive dog that needs specific training. And I'm talking from personal experience.
When I adopted Keeta from our local (low kill) shelter, there was no such policy, and I, like almost everyone else, have never even heard of Schutzhund or IPO, let alone the other protection sports.
However Keeta turned out to be a difficult, rebellious, impulsive dog, way beyond my ability to control and deal with, and finding a Schutzhund club and being involved in the intensive training with supportive and experienced dog people was exactly what we needed to change us from a dysfunctional, frustrated duo with no idea on how to communicate, into a team that enjoyed working together. It got me hooked on dog training, and protection work in particular. Most people who get into SchH/IPO start out this way. They acidentally learn about the activity (maybe like the people who join the forum and start learning about it for the very first time), decide to try it out with the dog that they have on hand whether it is suited for the sport or not, and if they enjoy it, do as much as they can with their dog, and may even title.
A blanket policy of no protection sports could prevent people from finding expert help when needed, or finding a new enjoyable activity for both human and dog, so personally, I would be against such a policy. But in the big picture, considering the general population out there, the impact the policy has on most placements is probably negligeable.
Is it possible that many of these rescues with such policies require the dog back if it needs to be rehomed. I know that most rescues do not or cannot accept dogs with bite histories because of liability. Maybe they feel that dogs trained in protection sports will be impossible to place if their owners do give them back to the rescue for whatever reason.
I do not think it is a good policy in that training a dog creates a bond between dog and owner and makes it far less likely for that dog to ever be given up for any reason. But, bad training does exist out there and there always is the possibility that the wrong people will take a dog who is not quite stable and make them very unpredictable and dangerous.
I think the best way to get a dog for protection sports would be to buy one from a breeder who actively trains dogs in protection sports and has a good reputation for producing solid working dogs.
Thanks Onyx, Castlemaid and Selzer for your replies!
Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that the consensus is that it is likely that rescue people would be hard-pressed to say if a dog had the right temperament for protection sports. Based on my own experience, I would say this is true... I certainly would not be able to give any kind of advice in that area...
I have certainly heard horror stories in the rescue world that support having a policy... yet, as Castlemaid pointed out, there are screening measures that, in most cases, should eliminate those candidates.
So, I don't know. Maybe it is a non-issue since the majority of people don't know about the sport.
But,I guess, if I was someone who actually cared about the sport, I might worry about the fact that there are so many people who first learn about it in a very negative light... i.e by rescue volunteers trying to explain a policy that bans the sport. Or, maybe that is a good thing... I still don't know.
Castlemaid is a great example of a good - no, great - dog owner getting the most out of the training and using it to deepen her relationship with her dog... but, can we assume that this example is analogous to that of the general population? Still confused.
Whenever a strong, powerful breed ends up in rescue(or shelter), the person adopting that dog should be screened carefully. And the dog should go to rescue first if possible for more evaluation.
If, in the future the adoptive owner decides to do sportwork with the dog, it shouldn't really matter because they've been screened thoroughly and shows they have responsibility.
It is sad that some bad trainers put the sport in a bad light, but I think it is more the "protection dog" fear which really has little to do with SchH's theory. A PPD and an IPO dog are not the same.
I've never seen any rescue or shelter with that policy. I have seen policies that state that a dog can't be used for fighting or purposely made to be aggressive. To me, that's common sense.
None of the shelters or rescues that I am familiar with have a ban on any legal sport the adopter might want to do with their new dog.
Shoot, I once purposefully looked for a home where the dog (retired scH III) would be given a recreational bite on a sleeve every now and then.
I think lack of knowledge is the deciding factor. Knowledge concerning protection sports, and knowledge concerning what type of dog is required to actually do them. Wouldn't it be great if shelters and rescues had contacts in the community for various sports? Agility, herding, IPO. Whatever.
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