Tag Archives: Agility

For All The Shy Dogs (& Their People)

The dogs that get the most press are the aggressive ones. I must admit when we started this thing, I assumed most of our client base would be dogs that couldn’t be left with other services. What I hadn’t planned for, was the dogs who were just so scared, their people wouldn’t leave them with others. To be honest, we’ve had one of those too….. But my mind, like everyone else, just went to the gnarly dogs that we can help. But one of the fist dogs we got was a shy guy, not a tough guy. Very shy. As in, took like ten minutes to get him to even investigate me. Fortunately, his owner was one of my students….. So, we already have a very high level of trust. So she, with a tremendously deep breath, handed me the leash. This is her experience with her shy pups Canine Outward Bound Half Day.

“The trust work began way before the agility course.  The first leap was to put Graf in the hands of two people he had never met before.  You see, Graf is the opposite of a dog with aggression problems – he is shy.  It’s not that he bites strangers, it’s that he just shuts down. When we meet new people on the street, Graf hides behind my legs.  So letting Jay and Mandy work with him for a whole afternoon, with me on the other side of town, was trust work not just for my little boy but for me, too.  But Jay has done wonders for my confidence as my self-defense trainer, and I have seen him work with his own dogs.  So, I was willing to take a chance that Jay and Mandy could help little Graf come out of his safe place, too.
My trust was well placed.  They sent text messages with photos of Graf’s progress.  The first one showed my boy kissing Mandy – this from a dog who won’t even take treats from strangers.  Before the day was over, Graf had done lead work side by side with a dog he had never met before, agility work on difficult obstacles, and found out that he liked treadmill running.  Not only was he not hiding, he was having the time of his life.
I think what Graf really found out that day (and so did I) is that taking chances with new people can reveal his own inner strengths.  He was not only learning to trust strange people and strange dogs, he was learning to trust himself.   What a different puppy I picked up that evening!”

-Virginia Eddy

Trust Obstacles

We’ve called it all kinds of names. Canine Parkour. Urban Agility. Doggy Obstacle courses.

But honestly, when we’re talking amongst ourselves we call them trust obstacles. Cause that’s what they are. Your dog develops confidence with environmental stuff, and confidence in you. It’s a huge relationship builder.

Waiting their turn!

Now with all exercise therapies, the depth of the work depends on how hard it is for your dog. So, if your dog is bomb-proof and nothing scares it, then this activity would just be a fun way to play. But for some dogs, it can be REALLY, REALLY hard. Psychologically I mean. They have to trust you enough to do the obstacle, even though it’s a weird-looking thing that they never traversed before. That’s tough for a fearful dog. It takes a lot of trust! And develops a lot of confidence! And, for environmentally shaky dogs, this can be absolutely life altering.

Jax’s first Obstacle session. Look at that focus!


We’ve had that experience with our little pack. It had a great effect on each one of our “Bad Bullies”, but they were all different.

I’ll explain:


Milo hates training. As in traditional obedience. I mean, if you use a box of treats, he may stay interested, but mostly he just pouts, and falls asleep sitting up. But not with Parkour (or whatever you want to call it). His eyes light up like a kid at X-mas! Some of his best obedience is done on an obstacle course. It just really engages him. For him, it’s a party.

His ears give him aerodynamic lift.
Dismissed! His favorite part!


Ah, the devil. She doesn’t get excited about obstacles like Miilo, but, she really likes the praise and attention she gets when she does one. She’s definitely on a “nothing in life is free” type structure to reign in her hyper freak out streaks. And the only time she gets the really over the top excited praise, that she craves is when she does a really challenging obstacle! For her the obstacles themselves aren’t reinforcing, but the reward is. For her, the fact that we are asking her to work for reward, goes a long way to solidify our pack structure. So, it’s a very useful tool for miss Mabel.

Miss Mabel getting her Parkour on!
Tolerating a sit stay to get to her big Dismiss, and a make out session!


Bell’s default mode is fearful. If we don’t expose her to novel (scary) things, on a regular basis, and INSIST that she go through them, she would be a shivering mess in the corner. For Bella, obstacles are a way for us to show her that we are safe leaders, that would never ask her to do something that would turn out bad. And, that even though things look scary, if she just trusts us, she’ll be OK. “Agility” has been one of the MAJOR rehabilitative things we’ve done for her. We know her well enough to see her apprehension sneak up on her in situations, but most people from the outside would think she was as brave as any other dog! For her, this work is mandatory!

Wobbly tires are hard for fraidy bulls.
Through the tire is the hardest for her!

Now, add all those great effects to the obvious physical exercise dogs get doing sessions of agility, and you’ve got a pretty awesome method of exercise therapy! The kind of fulfillment dogs get doing something physically AND mentally challenging is a joy to witness.

A little loose time is a great reward for working so hard. Our little pack. 3 bad bullies and a Jackson!

So, that’s our experience with Trust Obstacles, and how they’ve effected our pack for the better.