(Re)Training Rescues

Rescue pups can be wired to the moon. Training them isn’t easy – but it’s worth it.

By Guest Blogger, Ellie Campbell

So you’ve gone and rescued a dog.  Maybe it hasn’t had the easiest life. As a result, they may suffer from a host of temperament issues.

From anxiety around people to aggression around other dogs, it can be hard work to take in a rescue, but giving up on them and accepting their poor behaviour may be the worst thing for them.

It would be best if you remembered that they had lived one certain way for most of their lives, it’s not necessarily the “right” or even a safe way, but it’s also not something that will go away quickly. It’s a process.

But keep in mind that it is a process that will help you create a stronger bond with your furry friend. When you work hard together and see improvements, it will feel so much more rewarding – especially with stubborn dogs.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so while you may not see improvements immediately, stay consistent, and you will – in the meantime, you will be spending valuable time with your new best pal, strengthening your relationship.

We can assist you on your rescue training journey with some guidance, from teaching them to live within your schedule to un-training bad and potentially harmful learned behaviour.

Every Dog Is Different

No two dogs are the same. Even if they’re very similar, they’re never the same. Each dog requires individual care and attention when you’re training them.

The differences are more pronounced with rescues. If you’ve had more than one, you’re probably going to have two totally different training experiences.

After all, even if only a few months, these dogs have already lived some of their life without you and your rules. Sometimes they have lived without rules entirely.

You need to understand that your dog may initially be hesitant and may not trust you, but that’s why you’re training them, not just to improve their behaviour. You’re creating a bond.

It would help if you approached training a rescue with patience and a willingness to try things that will fail. See what makes them tick, see what works and doesn’t, and then build their training around that.

Are they motivated by food? What’s their play drive like? Are they more anxious in busy places? All of these things can help you provide a training atmosphere that will help your little (or big) rescue thrive.

Know Your Battles

Trauma is real. Dogs who have had a rough life may have behavioural hiccups that they cannot overcome, but that doesn’t mean they can’t improve.

Some have to, like aggression around people or a fear of loud noises, or anxiety around dogs.   The hours spent on training will truly make a difference.

Focus on what’s in your control, ensuring that your dog isn’t destructive, that they behave around houseguests, and they don’t try to run away.

A professional dog trainer can help you with these issues.

Naughty Dogs Don’t Get Treats

Training should be a developmental process. When you’re training your dog, working on developing new skills, and fixing issues like tugging on the lead, it’s a positive affirmation that’s going to make a difference.

But positive affirmations might not get you the results you want.  You may want to look into other methods of training.  Here is an article to assist you: https://acmecanine.com/dog-training-methods/

Being a leader is essential.  When a dog has a strong leader, it has a calming effect on him. He feels safe and taken care of. Obedience training establishes you as a strong leader.

Dogs sometimes struggle to link what they have done wrong to what they should be doing.  By being a leader, you provide clear, consistent messages to your dog.  You praise them when they do the right thing, give encouragement when they are on the right track, and re-focus them when they don’t do what you ask them to.

Training is a space where you should encourage your dog and build on your relationship. This is necessary for rescues who may have been let down in the past.

You will see a change for the better in no time, and they’ll be showing off their good behaviour day in and day out!

Extensive Exercise

Is your rescue dog naughty – or is it restless? Invest a good hour or two into exercise. Long walks will tire your dog out and clear their minds.

Sometimes rescues know how to behave. They have so much unspent energy that they have to zoom about like maniacs.

Make sure that you find the right amount of exercise for your dog, and make sure that they aren’t all riled up at home all day.

Change Things Up A Bit

Upset tummy: upset dog. Shelters do what they can but aren’t always able to find the perfect diet for every dog.

When training your rescue, try different diets like raw feeding, becoming increasingly popular and accessible through pre-prep companies like Bella & Duke.

If your dog’s digestion is better and they can break down food easier, you’ll see a huge change in energy which will transfer through to their enthusiasm when training.