Rescue Dogs: “It’s Like Rolling The Dice”
I train rescue dogs for Florida owners but with rescue dogs, it’s like rolling the dice because you don’t know anything about the pet.
I’m Laurent Gabriel, owner Elite Professional Dog Training in Winter Park and Central Florida. I train all breeds, ages, and temperaments, and handle the worst dog behavior problems. The owners and adopters always do their best to make a rescue comfortable, but then when it comes to training, the trouble starts and they want to know how to handle a dog with no history and an unknown past.
People Lie About A Dog’s Problems
Most of the time, people lie about a dog’s problems when they give the dog up to a rescue or shelter. They’ll drop the dog off and don’t give the true background of what happened with the dog. The dog may be brought from some really bad situations.
I’m only speaking from experience (25+ years) but people come to me when they have a problem. So I’m not saying that all rescues are bad. I just get the tail end of the misbehaving ones with all the issues.
I’m speaking from a dog trainer’s perspective. I know a lot of people who rescue dogs and don’t have a problem with them because sometimes dogs come out and they’re the most grateful for the place that they came to. For now, they’re the most grateful and will be the best dog ever.
Common Rescue Dog Problems
There are a lot of common rescue dog problems I see and owners who are not sure how to handle the dogs. They’re babying the dog because they feel sorry for it. But the dog is causing problems with people, with other dogs and the owners are at their wit’s end. They’re not sure how to train it.
I usually hear this:
Them: “We rescued this dog and it’s exhibiting these problems.”
Me: “Okay. What do you know about the pet?”
Them: “We don’t know.”
Me: “What are you experiencing now?”
Them: “Well, he’s bullying, he’s resource guarding.”
“He barks at other people or lunges at other people.”
“He urinates in the house.”
“He destroys the crate and the house.”
“He’s big and I can’t control him especially with other dogs.”
New To Your New Dog’s Behaviors
Sometimes it’s normal dog stuff. But if you’re not used to having dogs or rescues or you’ve had a docile dog your whole life, and then you get a dog with a totally different personality, it could be a little bit cumbersome, overwhelming.
Don’t Compare Dogs
And that’s because you’re comparing your last dog to this dog, or a dog you own. Don’t compare dogs: that’s like comparing siblings. But you just can’t do that. Every dog is different.
Instead, start with the idea that there’s a whole school of problems. So accept the dog for who they are and work with what you’ve got. And know that once you’re working with the dog it may take longer than expected.
Example: Two-Year-Old Rescue
For instance, I’m dealing with a dog right now a two-year-old rescue. They really don’t know much about it. The dog is very standoffish with strangers. So one or two things is going to happen.
First thing, he wasn’t socialized with a lot of other people, or the handler was too rough with the dog so anytime somebody starts to approach him a certain way, he becomes standoffish and he’s scared like, “Stop. I already know what’s going to happen.” The dog’s already been pre-programmed to be on defense because of this past experience.
I Have To Un-program The Behavior
So now I have to un-program or attempt to un-program the behavior. I have get the dog to as good as he or she’s going to get and that’s the tricky part. Because again, I can work with the dog as much as I possibly can, but it’s until the dog accepts it. That’s the difference. It’s all about acceptance.
To learn more about what this means, read about how dogs accept training when they’re ready to. Each dog is on its own timeline.