We love our rescue dogs here at Chonkly. We know shelter dogs dogs make great companions and pets, but we also know the difficulties that come with training a rescue dog.
In all, your dog could be a mixed bag. They may have some level of crate training, obedience training, and potty training. They may not!
Your rescue dog also may have a past you have to be aware of and patient with, such as separation anxiety, physical abuse, or may be reactive to other dogs and pets. Here we will outline some of the difficulties we’ve come across training our new shelter dog. And some of the resolutions (right or wrong) we’ve used to overcome those challenges.
Be Patient with Your Rescue & Take Time to Acclimate
Keep in mind your rescue dog will need time to acclimate and adjust to their new-found home. Your shelter dog has just gone through a lot of change and stress, living in the the shelter. Not to mention the past experiences they may have gone through.
A lack of patience and providing support only worsened my rescue dog’s behavior. Your frustrations and stress feed your dog’s behavior. It took some training myself to learn to help my dog adjust to his new surroundings.
Make him comfortable. Be routine and predictable. Let him explore. This all helped my dog ease into his new home.
Get on a Schedule with Your Dog & Stick to It
A routine is so important for your rescue dog adjusting to your home and life. In a shelter, life can be chaotic at times and stressful. A dog can find comfort and confidence in establishing a routine.
Having stability through routines for feeding, going outside, playing, and sleeping, among other things breeds confidence. And a confident pup means a happy pup.
Get Formal Dog Training
When we adopted our first dog, we assumed she had some training because she was older and friendly. Man, did we learn the hard way. She had accidents, destroyed things, ate things, and didn’t know personal space. So, we went into training mode.
We enrolled in dog classes to learn dog basic obedience and establish boundaries. And obedience training isn’t just for your dog. It’s for you to learn how to train and communicate with your dog as well.
Now, we have several commands that help us communicate with our pup. He listens and respects his boundaries. And don’t forget to praise and reward for good behavior! Positive reinforcement
Crate Train Your Dog to Start
Crate training is tough when you have an anxious dog like mine. Multiple crates and beds damaged and replaced over the last few years. For one, it took a while for him to feel comfortable and safe in the crate. We tried everything to make him enjoy the crate, like feeding him, giving him treats, giving him toys, and comfortable beds.
What we also didn’t realize was how anxious he was at the time, especially when we left. Not only did he have to feel comfortable in the crate (which he was), he needed to get comfortable being by himself. This goes back to being patient and giving him time to grow comfortable and confident.
We also learned to slowly extend his time in the crate while we were away. Starting 15 minutes and extending it a little each time we left. We also set a routine before we left our house and crated him.
We took him out. We told him to go to bed (the crate). We gave him a treat. And, lastly, we gave him his toy.
5 years, and Chief is much better in his crate and being home alone. He still gets anxious from time to time. But his routine helps him feel at ease in the comfort of his own home.
Identify Your Dog’s Behavioral Problems
This is, in my eyes, the most important of the difficulties we’ve had to overcome. When we adopted our first dog, Annie, she loved all people, dogs, and animals. When we adopted Chief, let’s just say it was an uphill battle. It took us a long time to realize that he was an anxious and reactive dog on top of being super-high energy.
He was kicked out of several dog training sessions and doggy daycares. We finally decided to take him to a behavioral specialist. Our behavioral specialist taught us and Chief how to work through his anxiety and his reactiveness to other animals. It took a lot of work and patience, but we overcame his behavioral issues.
Even to this day, he struggles with reacting to other dogs. But we both have learned to redirect his attention and establish strategies to work through his behaviors.
While these experiences and tips are not exclusively for rescue dogs, they certainly things I’ve come across with my dogs. And while not all of these apply to all rescue dogs, you may come across a few of these scenarios. But don’t let these scenarios keep you from loving your pup and giving him or her their best life!