Dog’s Eye View: Rescue no excuse
Many people, including me, have adopted rescue dogs. Sometimes, a dog will arrive with baggage from his former life. Occasionally, we get lucky, and the dog we adopt fits easily into the family, has no bad habits and turns into a true companion with little extra help from us. That is the exception, not the rule.
Since I’ve been the adopter of both kinds of dogs, I know this first-hand. Skippy came to me with a badly broken back leg and needed more surgery and lots of rehab. Ruthie came from a rescue in Utah, and other than eating two pairs of my Teva sandals, she was one of the easiest dogs in my life.
Then, there is little Max. What a joy he is for us. He still has issues if I’m working in the kitchen. When I turn on the stove, he gets in his kennel until we sit down to eat. When we got him, he was so terrified, he hid under the bed as far back as he could get. I could only think about the Hansel and Gretel story and what could have possibly happened to create that kind of fear. He is an affectionate, funny little guy, and we are so grateful to have him. By the way, he does like my cooking.
Most dogs are relinquished to shelters because they were not taught proper early training and socialization skills. Some come with varying levels of separation anxiety or they are not house trained or … the list goes on.
Why is it that just because a dog is rescued, some people make excuses for disorderly behavior and constantly blame it on, “Well, we rescued him.” Train the dog in front of you. No excuses.
Would you adopt a child and never send her to school? Would you permit bad behavior because she’s adopted? No, of course not. You would do all you could to help this child be successful and happy. Well, OK then; why permit bad behavior from the family dog or make excuses because your house is constantly being updated to doggy fraternity party standards?
It’s up to us to give that new dog a chance to become a treasured dog of a lifetime.” Research and read, find resources to help you develop the skills you need to become the trainer your new dog needs. Expecting the new dog to adapt without guidance will rarely yield good results. They don’t really come to us filled with gratitude and wanting to automatically please us. We can’t change them until we change ourselves. That means we need to educate ourselves or get the help we need to address the issues developing in the family with this new dog.
Having a plan ahead of time will set everyone up for success. Safe confinement when you are not at home starts with crate training. Structure, patience, consistency, insistence, setting expectations and dedication are the values and skills we need to turn around a dog who has missed out on early social skills and training. Protect your other pets until you have a chance to properly introduce them so the outcome is positive.
Write down every question you can think of, so the shelter or rescue can answer your concerns. Go over adoption papers carefully, so you are not surprised by a 10-pound cat eating banshee listed as, “Does not seem to react to cats.” Thoroughly question potential conflicts with children. That the dog got along with the 12-year-old in foster does not mean he will take to the antics of a toddler.
The more you know, the better the outcome. Success with a wonderful rescue dog is rarely accidental. Do your homework and plan ahead. No excuses.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience. She has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, as well as Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC in Northwest Colorado.
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