Rescue – Looking for Direction

Rescuing a dog is a common and welcome practice these days. Our shelters are full of dogs needing homes for any number of reasons. Sometimes new adopters are told a back story and sometimes nothing at all is known about the dog coming from a shelter.

In many cases new owners will try and explain away a dog’s problem behavior as “well he’s a rescue.” In reality many dogs are just looking for direction as they come into your home to live. They are trying to figure out what the rules are. There is no “Walk This Way” arrow when a dog comes to you from a rescue.  Don’t get wrapped up in the back story but rather make a new story. A new dog coming into your home whether it is a rescue or not, needs rules to live by right from the start.

Many common issues can be eliminated or will not even begin if clear rules are established. What rules are good to start?

  • No need for over affection or getting in the dog’s face- Allow the dog to decompress for a while.
  • Don’t give unearned privileges- establish rules right from the start rather than trying to change behavior once it has been allowed.
  • Don’t allow free roaming and access throughout your house at the beginning.

Rules can be loosened up later when a foundation is in place. It is much harder to take a privilege away once it has been given. For example: think about dogs on the furniture. Yes, open your heart but not at the expense of RULES TO LIVE BY. Don’t leave your new rescue stuck in the past, looking for leadership and guidance. Offer those rules at the beginning.

Write a new story, one that includes how delightful and respectful a companion you have. How in spite of being in a rescue, you have the best dog. That’s a story worth talking about.