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I currently walk a variety of dogs at a local rescue centre (labs, german shepherds, border collies).  They are a variety of ages (6 months - 7+ years)

Each dog gets about 25-30 minutes with me (I only have 3 hours to spare).  I let them have an off-lead run around in an enclosed paddock, then we go for an on-lead walk round a field.  Then we have a sit down on a bench near the office and watch the comings and goings.

So far, I've been happy just to get the dogs out into the fresh air, let them have a sniff a run around, and a bit of a cuddle (for those that enjoy it).

Given that the hope is that each dog will find a new forever home, I'm wondering if I could be doing more to prepare them for rehoming (ie, training them).  Some of them have virtually no skills/manners, others have been trained in the basics (ie, sit, wait).

I'd also like to give the border collies in particular a bit more mental stimulation during our walks.

The only 'equipment' I have is a variety of old footballs and tennis balls, a big round 'table' in the middle of the enclosed paddock that the dogs can jump on and... er, that's it.

Any suggestions re useful training and fun activities I could do in this situation?  I will talk to the rescue about this, but I know you guys have a shed-loads of experience!
I don't remember the numbers, but there was a study and it showed that dogs that have basic obedience are many times more likely to be adopted. Work on calm loose leash walking, sit, down, come, and stay. Those are the most essential and they don't require any equipment. If you get around to adding simple tricks like shake, that makes them seem more personable and helps with vet handling.
I also think basic obedience and leash manners are a really good idea. Walks and ball games etc address physical exercise but as soon as you start teaching even basic obedience skills you are engaging personally with the dog and engaging/exercising their brains. Sit, drop, stay, leave it, out as in out of your mouth, RECALL so valuable !!! A large secure enclosure area will be a safe place to practice. These might all seem so basic but I think they are so valuable and cannot be practiced too much. Proofing these basic skills sets the dog up for success. People choose a given dog for all manner of reasons and different people have different capabilities so if the dog has these things sorted he/she is an even more inviting proposition and leaves the new owner in a more comfortable position in order to come to really know the dog rather than starting out with the battle of basics. It can be a battle for some folks, depending on their own experience. A dog with skills is in the position to "teach" the new owner in many ways and it makes for a good start to a new relationship. People are walking away not just feeling he/she is so cute or so affectionate etc but also, "my new dog is so smart".
Great! Thanks very much for the pointers. My next question was going to be 'how to you train a dog not to pull on its lead?' (all but one of the dogs do that), but lo and behold there's already an excellent thread on this subject on this forum.

Thanks again.
(02-14-2018, 02:48 AM)UKPete Wrote: [ -> ]Great!  Thanks very much for the pointers.  My next question was going to be 'how to you train a dog not to pull on its lead?' (all but one of the dogs do that), but lo and behold there's already an excellent thread on this subject on this forum.

Thanks again.

Haha, yes leash manners is a common topic in all forums and groups. It can be quite the challenge but so important.

I thought of another idea while I was just floating in the pool, wow it is hot "down under" right now. LOL
Impulse control is also a great skill and you can utilise the balls, particularly if they are ball game orientated. Once you feel that "stay" is fairly solid start carrying a ball when you walk away. Turn and face the dog, then gently drop the ball to the ground while keeping the dog in a stay then when ready tell the dog to "get it". You can build on this and start gradually tossing the ball further away, wait and then get it. You can switch it to staying standing beside the dog and just tossing a little in front and follow the same routine gradually tossing further. Dog is practising basic obedience under distraction  and impulse control.

Good on you for wanting to do more, your a champion !! All dogs will take to all things differently and you can only do what you can in the time they are with you.
That's a great idea Trifan. There's a young lab who is ball obsessed, and needs a lot of work. I'll try that exercise next time I see him. Thank you!
For a ball obsessed lab you may need to work first on trading and drop it. Always have more balls than he can fit in his mouth Wink.
It is so sweet of you to help these dogs so they will be better companions for their new families!  

One thought on recall is don't use the dog's name just in case the new family changes the name.  

As mentioned, impulse control is really important and it works the dog's brain so it will tire them out.  If the rescue is OK with it try impulse control with food.  When I got Mattie she had no impulse control with treats.  If I had a treat in my hand she would paw me and be really pushy.   I would hold a treat in my hand and she would use her paw to to try to claw it out of my hand or use her nose and push at my hand.  It took a couple of sessions to teach her that waiting patiently would get her the treat.  Sit nicely and the hand opens up and you get the treat!  I like string cheese (do you have that in the UK?).   If no food issues tiny bits of cheese work well with most dogs and it isn't expensive.

And I think you should stop using "only" when you talk about volunteering with a rescue.  Three house is an amazing contribution!
Thanks for the suggestions. The ball-obsessed lab very stubborn so the tips are very welcome.

I'll try the cheese-based approach to impulse control today, and see how I get on!

Thanks again.