How to Make Your Rescue Dog Feel at Home
Kudos on bringing home a rescue dog! It certainly takes a lot of will and determination to rescue a dog from a pet shelter instead of purchasing one. You should be proud of yourself for taking the first step to saving a life despite knowing that you might not have a smooth road ahead.
Some rescue dogs may have a behavioral problem. When we brought Collie home, we were well aware of this fact and as such, better prepared to help her adapt to her new surroundings.
We’ve all heard how hard a time some dog owners have with their pets. But it all comes down to us to take the right approach to training our dogs. I’d like to share some of my experiences with Collie here that will hopefully help readers give their rescued dogs all the love they rightfully deserve.
House Training for a Second Time
We were told at the shelter that Collie was house trained. When we brought her home, we had to train her into her new routine. Your dog may either be untrained or may be house trained but may relapse when you bring it home.
House train your rescue dog just as you would train a puppy. Your dog might learn a lot faster than a puppy as adult dogs have better control over their bladders and bowel movements unlike pups.
Some dogs may be perfectly house trained but may feel the urge to mark their territory around your house. Just make use of enzymatic cleaners to discourage your dog from marking the same spot again.
It is also necessary to catch your dog in the act and stop it immediately by making a sharp, loud noise to disrupt it. This is harmless, your dog won’t enjoy it, and will eventually understand what is not expected of it.
Dealing with Irrational Fears
Your dog might have had a hard time at the shelter and at previous homes. Those memories will remain etched on your pooch’s mind for quite some time. Perhaps your dog cowers in a corner when you pick up the newspaper because it has been struck with it by an abusive owner in the past. Or perhaps your dog goes hiding under a chair when it sees new faces.
Some dogs may become very possessive about their things and owners because they may have had to fight for food, attention and toys in the shelter or elsewhere. Food aggression can be resolved by just letting your dog alone when it eats. Collie used to initially gobble up her food as if someone were to take it away from her any minute. She has become a lot calmer now.
When your dog is overly protective about you or its things- a behavior referred to as resource guarding, you will have to gradually remove its access to those resources. Make sure to not let kids near your dog when it is chewing a dog toy or being protective about it.
Separation anxiety is another issue you may have to deal with. If you leave your dog unattended at home for longer periods, he may develop destructive behavior too. Start on a small scale and increase the time you spend away from home gradually. Once your dog knows you’ll come back, he’ll be okay.
Remember that getting another dog to keep it company is not a solution to resolve separation anxiety. Your pooch wants you, and not anyone else, to be beside it. Destructive behavior may also mean you aren’t exercising your dog enough. Aim to spend quality time with your dog and exercise it by playing games or going on long walks.
In most cases, time and patience will help resolve these issues but if you think otherwise, pay a visit to the vet who will prescribe appropriate medicines.
Don’t Let Myths Get to Your Head
The most common myth people believe to be true is that all rescue dogs are badly behaved or have behavior issues. This isn’t true as most rescue dogs just need to be trained in the right way. Moreover, you will never be able to tell how a puppy purchased from a pet store may turn out to be but at a pet shelter, you’ll know what traits an adult dog already has.
A dog doesn’t always land up in a pet shelter because it was mistreated by its previous owner. Maybe the owner didn’t have the time for the dog or had bought it on an impulse without considering the responsibilities associated with owning a pet.
It is also wrong to think that your rescue dog won’t bond well with you. Rescue dogs that have lost a family may often bond more strongly with their new owners. If you have any doubts about your rescue dog’s behaviors, shove them aside. You need to be positive for things to work out between you and your new friend.
Don’t let these things put you off from adopting a dog from a shelter in case you’re considering doing so. If you have already adopted a rescue dog, these suggestions are meant to help you stay positive about your decision instead of wondering if you made the right choice.
Your dog may have witnessed abuse or stress either at its previous home or at the shelter. By caring for your dog with the same love and affection that you first felt for it, you will be able to establish a healthy bond with it.
~This guest post written by Nicola Reynor. Nicola is a community manager and a web presence strategist for Dog Love It, the best doggy supply store ever! In her spare time she loves to write about her pet love, and go hiking with her two dogs.