Easy Wins To Train Dogs Adopted From Shelters - What You Need to Know & Do Next
Here at SquishyFacedCrew, we're used to catering to all types of pet owners, and we know that many of our customers are owners of dogs that they have rescued from shelters. Today we wanted to dive in a little deeper and put out some useful pointers for those considering adopting a shelter dog.
When you adopt a dog, you bring a whole new set of experiences and new routines into your life. Those of us who have dog friends know the overwhelming feeling that accompanies bringing them home. The joy that is felt with those big soft eyes and the playful wagging of tails. The sheer joy in having a great new friend to take for walks and have special moments with. But, there is a lot more to owning a dog besides getting a new friend.
Dogs take up a lot of time and require a significant degree of commitment from you. They are going to eat, drink and have to be watched at [nearly] all times - especially when you're bringing home a rescue dog. They need to be cleaned up after and have to be fed. They can't help looking for trouble and when they do find it they require disciplined training to make sure they do not get into it again. It requires a major degree of patience and training and sadly, most dog owners don't provide it. They allow their dog to basically take care of them and they are out the door and in the park enjoying life with no complaints. Meanwhile, those who have provided the necessary time and discipline are stuck with a dog that is constantly barking, destroying whose personal belongings and peeing on rugs and carpets.
It becomes clear when looking at the various complaints that are running around that the main reason people have dogs is that they enjoy the company of others. They just don't have the time or patience to properly take care of the dog. They would rather have someone else do it for them. Problem is, however, this is the owner's fault because he or she is not providing the dog with the discipline it requires to be really happy. Dogs are pack animals and behave as such. They require a pack leader and they expect to have others follow the rules. If you are the pack leader and you provide the dog with the leadership then invariably your newly recruited friend will find solace in that and live a fulfilled and happy life. It will then relax and simply get used to being a part of a pack. If you continue to let it do whatever it wants it will get confused as to what the pack leader is expected to do. This is something that happens in human families all the time and we don't expect it to be so significant when bringing a dog back for the first time - but in reality, dogs rely on a series of verbal and more importantly non-verbal cues from you in order to gauge how to behave.
In actuality, the challenges faced by the standard (common) denominator or shelter dogs are fairly easy to fix. The key is to take action that is consistent and doesn't leave any unnecessary ambiguity you or your dog. You simply need to communicate with your dog consistently. This requires you to be fair, firm and consistent. It's important to understand that the dog will be confused at first and it will try its best to please you. However, after a while you'll get to what the dog wants to do. It will become clear as day as your expectations improve and your dog stays consistent and will act in accordance with your directions.
When you speak to your dog, your voice gives him or her a direction. A calm, assured tone that says "right", "fine", " Yep" or 'No" will let your dog know that you are pleased or otherwise with its behavior, and it's such a small change that it doesn't even warrant a second thought.
When you are first training your shelter dog, it's important to be aware that you need to be a good fit with the leash, collar and muzzle. The first time you strap on the collar and put on the leash there could be some initial discord. This is normal. If you don't start off right, you may end up trying to pull him or her back or simply getting taken back out of the training session. Take advantage of their curiosity by continuing the training while persistently adjusting the leash. Rest assured that your dog will eventually realize that you want him or her to walk with you and not the other way around and they'll draw closer to you naturally.
You need to be aware that even the best dog obedience training may not be able to stop dog biting if the dog doesn't know it's not okay to mouth so hard. This is extremely common in puppies, but some rescue dogs haven't had it trained out of them, leaving a challenge for you to face. The fact that you love him or her, is no excuse to allow any undesirable behavior. Biting is never acceptable. It may be cute in a puppy, but it certainly isn't so cute when your dog is 100 lbs strong and Fido is biting you.
Biting is one area where we would suggest thinking about seeking professional help. This is a serious issue and if you bring a trainer on to help, the results are usually quickly realized. There are wonderful, qualified individuals out there that can help you solve this problem in no time. Before you know it, you'll have a perfectly well-behaved dog, and you'll realise the full joy of rescuing a shelter dog and saving the dogs life