My sister recently expressed an interest in adopting a second dog, and told me to keep my eye out, next time I was at the shelter, for a dog in the 4-5 year age range. I found not a one.
Take a tour of your local shelter and you are likely to find the same thing--an overabundance of dogs between 8 months and 2 years. Having fostered a handful of these dogs in the past year, I can see exactly why: they don't stop moving. Tiny puppies are perpetual motion, perpetual pestering, perpetual get-into-things machines but they are impossibly cute so it's easy to forgive them.
Once they start looking like adult dogs, but still haven't slowed down, a lot of adopters just don't know what to do with them anymore and so they end up at the shelter, with all the other dogs their age.
Of course any training is going to be helpful for these dogs; learning to sit, down, leave it and the rest gives constructive activities and options for their brains to engage in, instead of destroying things and pestering people nonstop.
Pam Wanveer, when I was taking Sandy for her TTouch sessions, showed me how to just hold the dog's collar, and resist all the struggling, sniffing, and fussing around, until the dog is calm.
The article by Sue Sternberg in the "Train to adopt" series in the September/ October issue of the APDT Chronicle of the Dog describes a similar exercise as the Nothing exercise.
You can practice this in the shelter, in a quiet room where there are few other distractions--perhaps the room where visitors can meet dogs.
Sit in a chair, put some bedding or a blanket at your feet, and hold the dog's leash with very little slack and most of the leash folded into your hand. Stare into space, sit straight up and ignore the dog.
The dog will fuss around for a while--trying to chew your shoes, jump up on you, kiss your face, sniff around, etc. Ignore it all and hold the leash, holding it tighter if you need to limit some of the activity.
Wait for the dog to lie down on the bedding. As soon as he does, look at him, stroke him calmly, and tell him how good he is.
When he bounces back up again, immediately disengage and look away. As soon as he lies down, repeat with more attention.
The time he can remain lying down will increase, and the times between will decrease, as soon as he realizes that calm behavior brings the reward.
What a simple, wonderful way to help shelter dogs and foster dogs learn to be calmer, more controlled, and more appealing to adopters!