When it comes to training a new pet, rescue dogs often take special effort. At The Dog Wizard, our dog trainers have the expertise to work with dogs from every imaginable background, including under-socialized dogs, canines recovering from an abusive environment and dogs that are so hyperactive they seem out of control.
Challenges of Training Rescue Dogs
Rescue dogs often have completely unknown backgrounds, and many come from situations of abuse or neglect that may have made them develop behavioral problems. Fortunately, dogs are extremely resilient, so most behavior issues seen in rescue dogs can be resolved with a training program and household routine focused on structure, obedience training, and compassionate attention.
Some behavior problems commonly seen in rescue dogs include:
- Nervous behavior
If you’re a new dog owner and want to find ways to help your rescue dog learn basic obedience techniques and act better around other pets and people, check out the K9 training classes at The Dog Wizard.
Helping Abused Dogs Recover
Rescue dogs that have experienced abuse need to learn to trust people again. Abuse can be both physical and mental. Physically abused dogs might be fearful of humans or other dogs, and they might have specific associations with objects, such as brooms or rolled-up newspapers, that were used during the abusive incidents.
Mental abuse that rescue dogs might have endured includes neglect and under-socialization. Dogs who have been abused in this way might be nervous or aggressive around other animals or people. Some dogs are so fearful that it’s hard to get them outside for exercise or play. An aggressive dog might attack other dogs at the dog park or in the household, making it difficult for owners to maintain control and keep everyone safe on walks or in the backyard. Some aggressive dogs attack their human family members when scared or overexcited, which can be especially problematic for families with children.
Part of helping an abused dog recover involves establishing a bond with the new owner. Some abused dogs have trouble with separation anxiety and become so bonded to their new people that they can’t cope with being alone. These dogs sometimes become destructive or despondent when their owners leave them alone, even for short periods.
Dog training can help an abused rescue dog gain confidence and learn to interact properly with both people and other dogs. As training classes progress, you might notice your rescue dog starting to see the world as an interesting and exciting place again. Dog Wizard loves seeing these dogs open up as their faith in people and the world is restored — and you’ll love the way your rescued pet shifts from a nervous or aggressive personality into a dog who rewards you with years of love, trust, and loyalty.
Dealing with Wild, Out-of-Control Behavior
Some dogs coming from an abusive situation develop out-of-control behavior due to poor socialization. Many of these dogs get adopted multiple times, only to be returned to the shelter because the new pet owners can’t manage or put up with them. Sometimes these dogs end up living their lives in crates or kennels because their owners don’t know how to handle the dog’s behavior.
Signs that your new dog might be reacting to a history of neglect include:
- Chewing and tearing up things in the house
- Dragging owners around at full speed while on a leash
- Going wild whenever they see another dog or people
- Bolting and running away when the door opens or when they break free of a leash
Essentially, these dogs have learned that attention comes when they behave badly. They’re not trying to be bad dogs. They just want love and attention. Positive reinforcement when your dog behaves properly is a much better incentive than negative reinforcement that punishes a dog for misbehavior. The trainers at The Dog Wizard teach owners how to give positive rewards that make your pet eager to please you and excited to learn new skills. One of the biggest objectives of dog obedience classes focused on behavior modification is to teach your pet that there is a better way to get attention from a human owner.
If your rescue dog bounces off the walls and lacks all self-control, a dog training program can help. The professional trainers at The Dog Wizard help dog owners teach their dogs how to use their brains to make better choices and exercise impulse control. After just a few training sessions, your dog will start to see that much better things come from having good manners.
Building Your Relationship with Your Rescue Dog
Bonding with any new dog or puppy takes time, and this is especially true for dogs who have been subject to abuse or neglect from previous owners. First-time dog owners may not know how to help their pet become a friendly, happy member of their family.
While some people think an adult dog can’t bond as strongly with a new owner as a puppy would, this simply isn’t true. Most adult dogs, even those with a history of abuse or neglect, can form a strong, loving bond with a new owner. In many cases, a dog that has been turned in to the shelter for bad behavior is simply waiting for the right person and a good training program. Time and effort can help even the most problematic dogs reach their full potential as a loving pet.
Stability is particularly important to rescue dogs with a history of neglect or abandonment. Dogs like having a routine they can rely on, which means you should maintain a specific schedule of feeding, walks and playtime with your new pet. Dog training classes can also be part of this regular routine, and many dogs eagerly anticipate spending time in obedience classes with their favorite human. Knowing exactly what owners expect from them helps dogs feel safe and secure, which makes forming a deep, long-lasting bond possible.
At The Dog Wizard, our training methods are designed to help build a great relationship between you and your new canine family member. Communication is key for a great pet-owner bond, and The Dog Wizard helps you learn to effectively let your dog know what you want and teaches your pet how to respond better to you. Once your canine companion learns to trust you and figures out that good behavior earns extra affection and love, you and your new dog can become best friends with a relationship built on trust and loyalty.
Starting a Rescue Dog Training Program with Your New Pet
When you adopt a new puppy or dog from the animal shelter or a rescue organization, the history of your pet is generally unknown. Time, patience, and training are essential for solving potential behavior problems and getting your dog familiar with family members. Because the structure is so important for dogs, starting a dog obedience class as soon as possible is a good idea.
Obedience training gives your dog personalized one-on-one attention from you, which can motivate your pet to interact more with you overall. Plus, dog training is also fun for both you and your dog, so your rescue pet learns that life can be exciting, challenging, and enjoyable. Associating those positive feelings with you helps enrich both of your lives and lets your dog know you care about their happiness.
When you start a rescue dog training program, presume that your pet has never been trained before. Your pup might know a few tricks already, but starting from ground zero lets you reinforce good behavior and break any bad habits that have already formed.
Keep in mind that your dog is an individual with unique needs, desires, and quirks. This might dictate the type of training sessions you attend together. Some rescue dogs require more one-on-one interaction than a group class can provide, while others are ready for the socialization offered in a class with other dogs. Private classes might be a low-stress option for a, particularly nervous or fearful rescue dog. Group classes might be good for a dog that gets excited about seeing other animals and needs to learn how to respond to commands even when there are plenty of distractions around. Talking to the trainers at The Dog Wizard about your dog’s specific behavior issues and characteristics can help us find the right class for your pet.
If you’re looking for dog or puppy training, our dog training classes can get you and your pet started. Best of all, everything your new rescue dog learns during training sessions translates to the real world, so you can look forward to having a well-behaved dog for years to come.