A New Beginning
Rescue Dogs From an Obedience Instructorís Perspective

When we rescue a dog, they come into our lives from many different directions. We may seek them out, at a shelter or through a rescue group. They may come to us through unfortunate circumstances, such as the death of a loved one. Or, like most of mine, the flashing neon light in front of my house that says ďsucker lives here!Ē No matter how we acquire them, they now belong to us and we are responsible.

According to the ďDisney theory,Ē these wonderful creatures will forever be grateful for their salvation and go to great extremes to grant our every wish. Sorry folks, not reality! Reality is that they will not become the dogs they can be without our commitment, guidance and training. It is the nature of dogs to do what serves them best. Of course, they can come to love us, or perhaps, respect is the more accurate word. But, we must earn that respect, to show we are worthy of it. Thatís done through consistency and training, from the very first minute they walk into our lives. There is no grace period when bring a dog into your home, especially since that dog carries baggage. What that baggage is, you may never fully understand, but itís there. Often times I have heard it said ďI donít want to train him now because he was abused. He needs to feel secure and that I love him. I want him to feel at home before I ask anything from him.Ē Big mistake, huge mistake! First, most dogs have not been abused. A lot have been neglected. Some were just as happy as can be with their previous life. Second, from the moment a dog enters a new environment (your home) the ground rules are set. If you donít set them he will.

If youíll allow jumping on people then allow it from the beginning. If you donít want grandma face down on the carpet, then donít allow jumping. If your dog is permitted on the furniture, fine, if not, donít allow it to begin with. If you want your house destroyed then leave the dog loose, unattended. If you want to housebreak the dog, keep it in the room with you or crated/confined when you are busy or not home. All dogs need to be crate trained. The crate becomes their inside dog house. Their place of security when they need to escape or nap. A place with their blanket and toys. Or somewhere for them to be if you need a moment of peace and quiet. Beside, where do you think they keep your dog at the veterinarianís office or grooming shop when you drop them off? A dog can become stressed enough when needing veterinary care or grooming. Wouldnít the wiser thing be to have it comfortable with confinement before it becomes a necessity? My dogs are rarely shut in their crates but they often use them. Itís their place. Being crate trained has allowed my dogs to visit relativeís homes where they wouldnít have been welcome otherwise.

Decide what behaviors you are willing to accept. Those rules apply from the very first minute. It isnít fair or beneficial to allow one set of rules at first and then think you can change the rules half way through the game. The dog will resist and I donít blame it. Youíll blame the dog, because he should appreciate all you do for him -- ďDisney theoryĒ again. Rule changes arenít fair. Dogs need consistency and dependability from those that guide them. They need the faith and belief that what they are doing is right. You have to be the leader or else the dog will lead and you might not be happy with his rules.

If you are having problems, ask for help. Itís out there. Talk with the shelter or rescue group for suggestions. Enroll in an obedience class aimed at pet dog training. Talk with a friend whose dogís behavior you admire. Look for books on behavior or training. If you donít find the answer immediately, then try someone or something else. There isnít one solution for each problem. Itís as varied as the individual. If advice doesnít make sense or seems unusually harsh then seek additional help. Your efforts will be worth more than you could ever imagine. When your dogs looks into your face with those wonderful eyes, eyes that reflect itís soul, and you see trust, confidence, respect and love you will know that itís been worth the effort.

So many dogs end up in the revolving door of abandonment and rescue because someone wasnít caring enough or committed enough to deal with the ups and downs of training the dog. If your heart tells you that you want to give a chance to one of these throwaways then let your mind lead the way.

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