So, you’ve just adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue. Congratulations! Given time, love, and steady, patient training, adopted dogs can be just as wonderful as their traditionally-raised counterparts. Your job now is to teach your furry new companion to interact appropriately with the world around him or her. The good news is, no matter your dog’s starting point, you can get your rescue dog ready for dog obedience classes in 6 straightforward steps.
Please note: some dogs, due to extreme trauma, medical issues, or neurological concerns, may not be candidates to join other dogs in group sessions. Please contact us directly so that we can help you create a training plan that will respect your animal’s unique circumstances.
- Create a Safe, Predictable Routine
Even if your dog has the most positive rescue history possible, it has still spent time in a crowded shelter or rescue home. This transition may knock your dog’s confidence a bit, so plan to give it time to adjust to its new home and family.
In order to help your dog feel comfortable and safe, you’ll need to establish a healthy routine and stick with it. Regular mealtimes, frequent (and positive) potty breaks and walks, and regular sleep and wake times are requirements for any canine’s wellbeing and will go a long way toward helping your dog settle in.
- Take Advantage of this Opportunity for a Fresh Start
With that said, it’s equally important to realize that dog’s live in the present moment. Once settled in, your dog will not sit around ruminating on its past, and neither should you. Even if your dog does have a sad history, this is your chance to help it move beyond that completely.
Think like a dog: the past is past, and from this moment on, things can be GREAT!
- Supervise Your Dog At All Times
If your new dog tears up your favorite shoes, pees on the carpet, or snatches your sandwich off the table, it’s your fault because you were not watching your dog. Keep your dog in the same room with you at all times. You may even choose to leash your dog to your belt to make this easier! The important thing is to make sure your dog cannot create, follow, or reinforce negative behavior patterns in this new environment.
- Establish Firm Boundaries
As your dog’s new person, it is your job to create consistent, firm boundaries around its behavior. Use a neutral, authoritative, low tone when you’re correcting your dog’s behavior, and switch immediately to a higher, happy voice when your dog corrects.
These boundaries should be the same for your dog now as you picture them being in six months. For example, if your dog will not be allowed on your couch, do not make exceptions for this just because your dog is new to the home.
Although you, with the positive intention of softening your dog’s transition into its new life, may be tempted to bend the rules, doing so will only serve to confuse your furry friend.
Allowing behavior you don’t prefer creates the potential for future conflict where there would have been none.
- Begin Careful Crate Training
Just like you would with a new puppy, it’s important that you introduce positive crate training as immediately as possible. While you must supervise your dog at all times when you are home, you will also have to resume your daily responsibilities outside the home.
When dogs are left home alone, they are much more likely to do one of the following:
- Have a house training accident
- Destroy your stuff
- Disturb neighbors by barking
- Dig up the yard (if they have access to a doggy-door
Giving your rescue dog a crate ensures that it will stay out of trouble. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, a dog who loves its crate will also have its own special space to use as a den. When your dog is stressed, overwhelmed, or just worn out, the goal is for the crate to quickly become its favorite place to hide out.
- Enroll In Dog Obedience Classes
Well done! Once your dog has settled in to its new home, become used to a crate, and is responding to your enforcement of boundaries, you’re ready to sign up for dog training classes.
Beginning obedience classes as soon as possible will allow you to continue creating healthy boundaries around your dog’s behavior, both at home and out in the community. These regular training sessions will become a highly-anticipated part of your rescue dog’s routine, solidifying obedience and cooperation as a fun part of its amazing new life with you.
All Dogs Unleashed believes that proper obedience training will bring out the best in every dog. If you would like to explore your new dog’s potential, please contact us to enroll in one of our many dog training classes.
Our trainers have decades of experience in assessing a dog’s current abilities and then putting them on the path toward optimal obedience response. Whether your dog is young and cheerful or a reluctant and shy senior, our skilled staff will work with you both to help foster the best working dynamic possible.