Have you recently adopted a rescue dog and now find yourself in need of guidance on the best tips and tricks for training them? Training a rescue dog is much more than just teaching them how to sit and stay. It’s about understanding their unique challenges, fears, anxieties, and needs while also finding ways to foster trust, cooperation, and confidence. In this guide, we’ll uncover why training your rescue dog isn’t the same as training a new puppy and equip you with the essentials for establishing an effective training routine that will help set your pup up for success.
Training A Rescue Dog
If you have just adopted a dog, congratulations! Rescue dogs can make wonderful pets and companions. However, they often require a bit more patience and understanding than newly adopted puppies. Understanding the unique challenges of training a rescue dog can help you set realistic expectations while avoiding potential setbacks. Your new family member may have some sort of training already, or it may not have any at all. And it is also possible that something from the past could trigger behavioral issues. Here are some of the most important things to know about training a rescue dog.
Understanding Your Rescue Dog
The most important part of training a rescue dog is understanding where they came from, and their previous circumstances. You have no way of knowing until spending time with your dog what their previous experiences may have been like. Rescue dogs may have come from abusive or neglectful homes, so it is important to be patient and understanding with their behavior.
Expect a Period of Adjustment
Like humans, dogs need time to adjust to a new environment and situation. Be aware that your rescue dog may be scared or anxious in the first few days or weeks of living with you. It’s important not to expect too much from them during this period as they are still coming to terms with their new life. Take things slowly, and don’t push them too far too soon.
Set Firm Boundaries
It’s important to start training your new dog as soon as they come home. While spoiling them for the first week or so may be tempting to compensate for their time in the shelter, it’s not recommended. Once your rescue dog has begun to adjust and trust you, setting firm boundaries and rules is important. Don’t expect them to know the house rules immediately, as they may need to be taught. Begin by setting up a consistent routine for your pup and stick with it. This will help them understand what is expected of them from day to day.
Get on a Schedule
Establishing a routine for your newly adopted dog can provide stability and help them adjust to their new home. Dogs generally like having a routine, and those that have spent time in a shelter might have been stressed due to the unpredictable environment. You can provide your dog with some much-needed stability by setting a schedule for feeding, walking, playtime, and bedtime.
Assume Your New Pup Has Zero Training
When training a rescue dog, you want to assume they have no training. This means you’ll need to start from the basics, such as teaching them how to walk on a leash, proper potty habits, and basic commands like sit and stay if your pup has any prior training or is already familiar with some of these concepts, great! You can always build on what they already know.
By assuming your pup has zero training experience, you won’t be setting them up for failure with expectations that are too high. Start with basic commands and positive reinforcement, such as treats and verbal praise.
Try to Crate Train Your Pup
Crate training your rescue pup is a great way to keep them safe and secure when you’re not home. It’s also an excellent way to reduce the stress of traveling, as most dogs find it comforting to have a den-like space they can retreat to. Begin with short periods of time in the crate and slowly build up as your pup becomes more comfortable. Make sure you provide plenty of toys and comforts to ensure they are content while crated. When training a rescue dog, crate training can be a valuable tool.
Enroll in Obedience Classes
Training a rescue dog can be a big task, but you don’t have to take it on alone! Consider enrolling your pup in an obedience class, which can provide professional guidance and help you learn how to train your new companion properly. Plus, it’s a great way for your pup to socialize with other dogs!
Common Mistakes and Problems that Can Occur When Training A Rescue Dog
However, just like anything, some things can go wrong when training a rescue dog which is why it is important to understand the common problems that occur and mistakes that people often make during training and how you can avoid them. Some of the most common mistakes include:
- Trying to do too much too soon- While it is important to begin training your pup as soon as they come home, it is also important not to rush and try to do too much too quickly. Give your pup time to adjust and trust you before expecting too much from them.
- Not establishing boundaries- It is important to set firm boundaries and rules for your pup from the start. This will help them understand what you expect from them and provide stability in their new home.
- Slow to Bond- Bonding with a rescue dog can take time, so be patient and understanding during the process. Put in the effort to get to know your pup and watch for signs of trust before pushing them too far.
- Trouble with Socialization- If your pup has had limited socialization in the past, they may be shy or fearful around other people and dogs. Take some time to make sure your pup is comfortable around new environments and people before introducing them to busy areas like dog parks.
- Crates Were Used for Punishment Previously- If the pup was previously mistreated or abused, they could have a negative association with crates. Start slowly and reward your dog for being in its crate with treats to help them develop a positive view of it.
- Not Having Proper Supervision- Rescue dogs may have a hard time adapting to their new home and surroundings, so it is important to provide them with proper supervision during the transition period.
Overall, training a rescue dog can be challenging but also rewarding. With patience, consistency, and understanding, you can help them adjust to their new home and form a strong bond with your pup. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too. Training can be exhausting! With the tips outlined here, you’ll be well on your way to successfully training your rescue pup. Good luck!