Agility Helps Rescue Dog Overcome Fear

Giant Schnauzer “Benjamin” came to the Newland family from the Schnauzer Rescue of the...

Giant Schnauzer “Benjamin” came to the Newland family from the Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas in 2011. He had been kept chained in the backyard by a previous irresponsible owner, and as a result, was thin, timid, and afraid of other people and other dogs. Here, owner, trainer and agility competitor Victoria Newland shares the inspiring story of how she used the sport of agility to help break through Ben’s shell and get him on the road to recovery:

“Since I’m a part-time Teamworks Dog Training Instructor in Raleigh, North Carolina, I started training Ben for agility. Soon, Ben got his strength and muscle tone back, but Ben’s first night in an actual agility class was tough. Even though he could do all the obstacles at home, Ben would not go through a tunnel and he needed to make sure he knew where the instructor was at ALL times. But Ben and I kept working at agility and his confidence started to increase…slowly. I have seen agility’s transforming ability to help a dog overcome fear and to create a bond between handler and dog many times. That’s why I love agility so much!

Our first agility trial in Yadkinville, NC in 2012 was a challenge. The only way I could get Ben to ringside was to have him follow my friend Amy’s Giant Schnauzer, “Lucy.” Once I got Ben into the agility ring he did his job fairly well, but was very scared of the judge walking around him and he would not get on the pause table. Now in 2014, I’m humbled to share that Benjamin is the #1 ranked Giant Schnauzer for the upcoming AKC Agility Invitational! This is a lifelong dream of mine to take a Giant Schnauzer to AKC Invitational; I have never been. Ben and I are still on our journey, but it proves that rescue dogs can do it too!”

Good luck, Victoria and Ben, on your road to the Invitational!

Looking to add an adult dog or purebred rescue to your family? Check out the AKC Rescue Network.

Learn how to get started in agility.