Rescue Dog Training

Rescue Dog Training

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The main problem when training a rescue dog is that the dog has had no prior training. By the time a rescue dog is placed in your home, it may have had times or no socialization, house training, or leash-walking experience. Thus, when you begin to housetrain the dog, you will have to start from scratch rather than build on any previous successes.

Rescue Dog Training

Dogs are creatures of habit and will not go against their trained behaviors unless they are forced to do so by unpleasant consequence and/or significant changes in their daily routine. Rescue Dog training is more of a challenge than training a dog from a puppy because it already has developed bad habits and these are harder to get rid of than training a pup from the start.

What to Teach your Rescue dog

You must teach the dog to:

  • Stop attacking you and others
  • Go to the toilet outside
  • Take commands from you without a command being issued more than once (this is called “mouthing”)
  • Come when called – a recall (from any distance) whether or not food is involved. Watch for what seems to be a natural response from your pet that will work as a recall.
  • Socialise with other people and dogs

The best approach to use with a rescue dog is the positive reinforcement technique where the dog gets a treat within 5 seconds of doing the desired behaviour. That could be immediately after weeing outside, doing a sit or even being in the presence of a new person.

Socialising a rescue dog

The main problem when training a rescue dog is that the dog has had no prior training. By the time a rescue dog is placed in your home, it may have had times or no socialization, house training, or leash-walking experience. Thus, when you begin to housetrain the dog, you will have to start from scratch rather than build on any previous successes.

As any dog owner knows, dogs are creatures of habit and will not go against their trained behaviors unless they are forced to do so by unpleasant consequence and/or significant changes in their daily routine. Rescue Dog training is more of a challenge than training a dog from a puppy because it already has developed bad habits and these are harder to get rid of than training a pup from the start.

Dogs which have been rescued often have some form of behavioral issue which is the result of having no prior training at all. The rescued dog may be aggressive, frightened or just completely out of control.

Allow your dog to have time to get used to members of the household. It’s best to introduce him to people sitting down which is less intimiating than having them stand up. Make meeting other members of the household (human and canine) a positive experience. Everyone should give treats and toys. If there is a sign of the dog being fearful and aggressive, stop the training and return him to his bed or crate. Then reintroduce again at a later date when he is calm.

When introducing your dog to other dogs in the park do so in a controlled manor – a long leash is good for this until you know whether your dog is dog-friendly and can be trusted to come back when called. You may decide to muzzle your dog if it is dog-aggressive. If you do, choose a basket muzzle which will allow your dog to pant, eat and drink. In the early stages of dog socialisation, introduce your rescue dog to other good dogs who you know and trust. Any bad experience with another aggressive dog could set your dog back in its training.

Toilet Training

Your dog needs to make regular visits to the place where he should go to the toilet, which is usually the garden or yard. Let him out every 2-3 hours for the first few days while he gets used to it. Combine this with regular walkies – at least 2 a day. When your rescue dog wees or poos outside act like its the best thing in the world! Reward immediately with high value treats such as chicken. Our rescue dog got used to it within just two days of this!

Basic Commands

Give your dog a few days to settle in (even a few weeks for some dogs) before you start intensive obedience training. As a general rule it can take a dog up to 3 months to fully settle. When you feel that you have a good bond with your dog and your dog is ready, you can train your dog to sit, stand, stay and lie down. Usually having a treat in your hand and combining this with the correct dog training hand signals works well. For example, to get your dog to sit, show the treat and raise it with an upward motion, and your dogs head should raise and his bum should go down to follow!
When your dog has the basic commands in place you can then start to do more advance dog tricks like spin, shake a paw and bark!

Crate training a Rescue Dog

Crate training a rescue dog is a popular approach. However, remember that when you adopt a rescue dog he is likely to be very stressed, so don’t force him to do things he is uncomfortable with. Crate training a rescue dog is different to crate training a puppy. Some rescue dogs may already be toilet trained. A crate may simply be a way to give your new rescue dog somewhere to feel safe and secure – you don’t need to lock him in straight away – fill the crate with treats and blankets to make a cosy den where he can feel secure.

When crate training a rescue dog it is very important that his environment is calm and quiet. Remember, the first thing you will teach your rescue dog is that his crate is a safe place. The crate should be big enough so he can stand up and turn around in the crate, but not too big as it can become overwhelming for the pup. Cleaning out the crate regularly will keep shedding to a minimum. Ignore your pup’s barking if he actually did something wrong – this may be due to a fear of being left alone or stress at being moved to another home.

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