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Bringing home a rescue dog

03/12/2018 - Latest News

Rescuing a dog? First of all, let me congratulate you on your new arrival and thank you for offering a secure home to a deserving dog. Rescue dogs are rewarding companions and they can teach you a lot about life and love.

In my dog training I’ve met some wonderful rescue dogs and their owners and I’ve enjoyed working with every one of them. It’s a real joy to see a dog from a difficult background find his confidence and start to flourish. In this article I’m going to share some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way – things that will hopefully help your rescue dog to feel safe and enjoy his life with you.

The journey home
Bringing your rescue dog home for the first time is incredibly exciting. You’ll probably want to cuddle him for the whole of the journey. There are a couple of things to consider though

  • The law states that if you have a dog in your car it MUST be restrained. If you have an estate car or a hatchback you can invest in a dog guard so that he travels in the back. For a saloon, he should wear a harness with a doggy seat belt on the back seat. If you are lucky enough to drive a sports car, think hard about whether it’s the right vehicle for your first journey together. The dog will must not be able to disrupt your driving. It’s also vital that you switch off the air bag .
  • Travel sickness. Not every dog travels well – particularly if he’s in a strange vehicle with people he doesn’t know all that well. Be prepared to break the journey if he seems distressed – and protect the upholstery – just in case!
  • Getting out of the car. It’s my worse nightmare. A dog jumping out of the car and running into traffic. Until you are confident that your dog will not leave the car until you ask him to, please please make sure his lead is on before you open the door.
A safe place
It might take as long as a few days for your rescue dog to get used to his new home. Make sure he has a comfy bed in a quiet corner and he knows where his water bowl is. Then allow him to explore in his own time. If he’s not all that affectionate to start with, that’s OK. The more patient you are with him, the sooner he’ll settle.

It might take a while to get the hang of toilet training too. Just give him plenty of opportunities to go outside and praise him when he gets it right.


The first walk
You will probably have had a few familiarisation walks with your rescue buddy while he was in his foster home or kennels. However he probably hasn’t told you yet what he does and doesn’t like. And if he has, he might have changed his mind since he came to live with you.

The first walk needs to be short, full of interesting smells (for him, not you) and he needs to be kept on the lead until you are 100% sure of his recall.

Monitor his reactions carefully. Does he shy away from traffic? Lunge at bicycles, change his body language when he sees another dog? Pull on the lead? Ignore you?  Any potential problems need to be addressed as soon as possible, preferably with the help of an experienced dog trainer.

Rosa was rescued from Romania and came to stay at Premier Dog Training for some residential training – here she is showing off how cool calm and collected she has become

In doggy terms, socialisation is all about being able to cope with his environment and everything in it. If your dog is well mannered, confident and a pleasure to be with, you’ll have a fabulous life together. That’s the goal of nearly every dog owner I’ve ever met and it’s achieved through socialisation. Introducing your dog to new experiences gradually so that he knows there is nothing to be feared.

With a rescue dog, he may already have had bad experiences of socialisation so your job is to help him overcome his fears. If that sounds daunting – a qualified dog trainer like myself can help. There’s more to dog training than just “sit” “stay” and “heel”!

Training your rescue dog
Dog training gives your dog the mental stimulation he needs to thrive. It also helps to build the bond between the dog and his human companions. At the very least you should be able to trust him to come to you when he’s called, walk nicely on a loose lead, be polite to people and dogs and relax between games and training. If he’s intelligent he’ll enjoy learning tricks and you’ll enjoy showing his new found skills off to your friends and family.

Premier Dog Training offers a range of services to rescue dogs and their owners. Including

  • group dog training classes,
  • one-to-one consultations for dogs who are not ready for classes
  • residential training for dogs who need extra help
  • agility classes for fun fun fun

 To find out how we can help you and your rescue dog, visit our website or contact Sean for an informal chat.