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The people at dog rescue groups and shelters work hard to match their dogs with pet parents. They hope to make good matches based on personality and energy levels. If a dog is a firecracker, they try to place him with someone who wants a workout partner in a dog. Quiet, shy dogs that like to be petted, on the other hand, would go to a family with a young child. They know that if they were to simply let families have any dog that they took a fancy to, they would quickly bring them back. Their aim is to find each dog a home that’s forever.
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Preparation Is Key
If you’re thinking of ways to train your new rescue dog, the process should ideally start before your pet even arrives. You want an animal that is already mostly the way you want it to be by virtue of genetics and natural disposition. The first step to any training program, then, should be to think about exactly what you’re looking for. Whatever your ideal pet is like in your vision — an energetic and playful friend, a dog that would love to learn new tricks, one that likes to sit in your lap all day, a guard dog or anything else — you need to write it all down, and show your list to the people at the shelter.
Just as with people, it can be very difficult to make a dog do anything that it wasn’t basically meant to do. You’ll save both yourself and your dog a great deal of frustration when you get the right kind of individual.
Before you bring your new rescue dog home, learn as much as you can
Any information that you can learn about your new pet’s past life can help you in the training process. At the shelter, you should ask every question that you can think of. Answers about whether he was ever housebroken, trained to be friendly with children, trained to be around other dogs and cats or subjected to bad experiences with a previous owner, can be useful. You could also ask for information about anything that the rescue shelter people may have noticed — fear of crowds or loud noises, a tendency to escape and so on.
When you leave the shelter, it wouldn’t be a good idea to go straight home. Your dog has spent weeks in a shelter, and has a great deal of pent-up energy. You should walk or run around a park with him on a leash, giving him a chance to burn off excess energy. The entire time you should be sure that you are ahead of him, rather than the other way around. This experience should show him that you’re leading him. He’ll take from the experience that he is supposed to follow your lead. This should help you with all your future training.
The grand entrance
When you finally get home, you still mustn’t take the leash off. If you do this, your dog will do what dogs always do in new surroundings — he will quickly visit every room, and claim it as his own. Then, you’ll have a hard time training him to see that the home actually belongs to you. For this reason, you should keep the leash on, and lead him into each room yourself. You should be in front, not the dog. Only after you lead him into every room should you finally take the leash off and pet him. This is the kind of introduction that will help him see that you and your family are the leaders, and he is the follower.
You’ll need to give your dog plenty of time to adjust and stop feeling on edge. It’s usually a good idea to crate a new dog right away, unless he is a breed that cannot be created, or has had an abusive owner in the past who confined him too much. Every minute that your dog is not in his crate, you need to supervise him. Rescue dogs in new surroundings can be very unpredictable.
If you have other pets in the house, you should seek advice from a vet or a dog trainer about ways to get them to get along. Getting pets to live together can be a challenge, and it shouldn’t be underestimated.
You’ll probably face a few issues at first
Every rehomed dog usually arrives with a couple of behavioral issues. You could see toilet-related accidents, escape attempts, fidgeting, barking, chewing and a tendency to jump all over people. It can take a couple of months to train your dog adequately to have the troublesome behavioral traits worked out. Great dogs are trained, not born. If you start working on helping your dog learn the rules of human company right away, you’ll be wonderfully rewarded.
First, find out what your dog already knows
In the first couple of days after your dog’s arrival, you want to find out how well trained he already is. You can try basic commands at first to see if he’s familiar with them. He may also know how to ask to be taken out. As you discover the things that your dog already knows, you will be able to praise him with all your heart. Such positive reinforcement will be a great way to get your dog to begin to feel at home.
Getting professional training
It’s vital to take your new rescue dog to a professional trainer. It takes a high level of experience and knowledge to train an adult dog that’s been through a lot. You should probably not sign your dog up right away, though. Right after coming home from the shelter, he will probably be in a vulnerable emotional state, not knowing whom to trust. It can also take weeks for your dog to take in all the different kinds of sights, smells, sounds, people and stimuli that are unique to your home and living area. The more secure your dog feels in his new life, the more happily he will submit to training.
It doesn’t take a lot to train a rescue dog. If you’ve done your homework and brought home the right kind of dog for your family, training should be over in no time. Then, all you’ll need to do is to have fun with your perfectly well-adjusted rescue dog.