REHOMING RESCUE DOGS
There are all sorts of reasons why dogs might require rehoming. Sometimes it is due to family breakups perhaps because the owners don’t want to leave their dogs at home alone all day now they have to work full-time.
Perhaps the owner is no longer able to look after the dog due to deteriorating health or a progressing illness.
These are the more straightforward dogs to rehome as they often do not have legacy behavioural problems that they are bringing with them. They will still need introducing to their new environment in an understanding, empathetic way.
Often, however, there is no clue as to why the dog is being rehomed. For instance, a dog found having been abandoned or as a stray. Dogs can be taken to rescue organisations without the owner honestly revealing the true reason for the rehoming request, perhaps fearing that the organisation won’t take their dog.
When taking on a rescue, the dog can exhibit all sorts of issues that were probably present in its previous life. These issues may well have been the reason that the dog required rehoming. The new owner has no knowledge of the measures that were previously taken in an attempt to correct the behaviour, ranging from well-intentioned but inappropriate training techniques to deliberate mistreatment.
In some respects, rehomed dogs are initially a blank canvas. Any behaviour problems can gradually emerge in the weeks that follow the rehoming as the dog settles into his new situation. Dogs operate in the ‘here and now’ but their previous experiences shape how their association with objects and situations. It can take a lot of patience to regain a dog’s trust depending on his character and background. They can really surprise you with the rapid progress they make when they finally have an owner who understands how to communicate with them. Whatever the situation, a rescue dog can make a fantastic companion provided that due allowance is made to take these factors into account.
Dog Listening, with its empathetic and consistent approach, is the perfect stress-free way to gain – or to regain – your dog’s trust and increase his confidence.
Less can be more with rescue dogs. New owners often overwhelm a dog with attention in an attempt to remedy previous neglect. This puts unnecessary pressure on the dog, confusing him and stressing him still further.
When introducing a dog to its new surroundings the best approach is to let him be. Interact with him of course, but make gradual progress as your dog shows you he can cope with your attention. He may take a few days up to a few weeks to adapt to his new situation and this transition needs to be as stress-free as possible for him. Your dog may not have been adequately socialised so may have limited experience of the outside world. If so, he is going to be overwhelmed and stressed when first exposed to it. Take him for short walks and gradually build the walking up over a few weeks to allow him to adapt and take it all in at his own pace.
Any behavioural problems he has may take a while to emerge, so provide him with a sound basis and the appropriate signals to show him what you expect of him and how he fits in. You might need to start his walking off in the house or in the garden and work your way out from there.
It is most important that your dog feels safe so that he is able to relax. It is down to you, the new owner, to show him that humans are actually trustworthy. This realisation will help to rebuild his confidence.