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Bringing a new dog home is a great experience! There are a lot of wonderful dogs waiting in shelters for the right person or people to come along and make them a member of the pack!

Any dog being introduced to a new home needs the training to understand what behavior is acceptable, know what to expect, develop a comfortable routine, and understand that they are safe and have a place in your loving home.

At K9 Basics, we can help your rescue dog adjust to life in your home and become a happy addition to your family. 


How Do Shelter Dogs Differ from Puppies in Necessary Training? 

Most dogs can be trained by dog parents. If you got your dog as a puppy from a reputable breeder, you pretty much know what you’re getting. You know about the dog’s breed and lineage, and you can start from scratch with a blank training slate. 

With a rescue dog, you have a bit of a mystery, which doesn’t mean they won’t make wonderful pets. Some of them have been through a lot, though. Maybe they were surrendered or abandoned, separated from their mothers too soon, living as strays, or physically or emotionally abused. You don’t know how much or what kind of training they have had, and they may have bad habits to unlearn.


Common Rescue Dog Behavioral Issues

There are several issues, from mild to severe, that you may encounter when rescuing a shelter dog. You will need to give some thought to whether you can, or want to, do what needs to be done to resolve those issues.


Lack of Training

A lot of rescue dogs have had little training or none at all. And because your dog can’t tell you what training they’ve had or give you a résumé, you have to assume you need to start from scratch unless they give you some indication of what they know. So, you can start with some basic commands that every dog should know, such as:

  • Sit! 
  • Stay! 
  • Break! 
  • Come! 
  • Down! 
  • Heel! 
  • Off! 
  • Place! 
  • Quiet! 

And we can take on the training from there!


Food Aggression

When the ASPCA conducted a survey of dog shelters, they found that dogs were likely to be labeled unadoptable if they were food aggressive and thus too dangerous. Food aggression means the dog fiercely guards their food as though someone will take it from them. They may growl a warning or even bite anyone who gets too close. It isn’t very easy, but it is possible to train them. 


Harder to Socialize with Other Dogs

Some shelter dogs have poor social skills. If they were strays, kept isolated, removed too soon from their mother and littermates, or otherwise not given opportunities to socialize with other dogs, they may find it difficult to do now that they’re living with you. Learning socialization at this point takes patience and a gradual approach to training. Our group training programs are ideal for socialization in a controlled setting.


Resource Guarding

An insecure dog may aggressively guard things they consider valuable to them — toys, their bed, the home, even you. Food aggression is a form of resource guarding. They are protecting these valuables from perceived threats and will respond to efforts to take the item away with anything from warning growls to biting. In their past, the dog may have learned that things can and will be taken away if they don’t protect them. As a result, they are in survival mode when they don’t need to be.


Separation Anxiety

Anxiety is the anticipation of a perceived impending threat. For a dog, separation anxiety occurs when you go out and leave them behind, especially for a long time. In the dog’s mind, the pack leader is missing, and the dog doesn’t know when — or if — you’re coming back. As a result, they may react by incessant barking, chewing the furniture, or other destructive behaviors.


Rescue Dogs Can Get Quite Whiny

Dogs whine for several reasons — it gets your attention, they need to go outside, they’re hurt or sick, they’re stressed, there’s something they want, or maybe they’re excited to greet you. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet learned that whining is not an acceptable way to communicate. We can teach them otherwise.


What Kind of Training Does a Rescue Dog Require?

Rescue dogs often need rehabilitation in addition to training. But, despite having a bad card draw, most are phenomenal dogs — they just need more manners and better control. And pet parents need to know how to be their dog’s most effective pack leader. 

At K9 Basics, we first evaluate every dog, regardless of background, and then we train using positive reinforcement. It keeps the dog motivated to learn. And we help pet parents understand their roles.

One of the challenges we see with rescue dogs is when the pet parents feel sorry for the dog because of their complicated past. They attach human emotion, overprotect the dog, and set them up for failure by reinforcing wrong behaviors.

We describe it as a rubber band. Some rescue dogs have small comfort zones, so we have to gradually stretch that comfort zone, even though the stretch might be a little stressful. It’s necessary to get past the fears and anxieties and on the path to a healthy, happy dog.


Look for a Professional Trainer at K9 Basics!

Training a rescue dog can be challenging, but we at K9 Basics are here to help. Our group training, boarding programs, and other training events are provided by a passionate, devoted staff. In addition, we listen carefully to our pet parents to ensure we understand and address their concerns and that they know what they need to do when training is done. 

K9 Basics has been the area’s leader in professional dog training for 15 years. Our goal is to help dogs and their pet parents have the most fulfilling lives together. We are proud to train rescue dogs that become obedient and well-mannered regardless of their backgrounds. Contact us to talk about your dog’s training needs and to make an appointment. Also, browse our blog for various topics about dogs and their lives with us.