Rescue Dog Training – Stray Dog Advice from Overseas Holidays
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In the past 12 months there has been a big increase in the number of dogs being adopted from aboard. Mainly Romania but also places like Spain, Cyprus and Eastern Europe, which isn’t surprising as there are a lot of dogs available. Generally, these are dogs who’ve been found on the streets, born in shelters or abandoned.
If you decide to go down the route of adopting a dog from aboard are you really prepared for what you are adopting. The reality is you are adopting a dog who has either lived and survived on the streets or a puppy whose parents or grandparents were street dogs, which means street dog behavior is encoded in their DNA.
When you’re adopting a dog via a rescue charity you are saving the dog from the shelter you aren’t saving them from life on the streets.
Street dogs are called street dogs because they know how to live and survive on the streets, they’ve been doing it for generations. They don’t need saving from the streets they need saving from the kill shelters.
When you adopt a former street dog you should be prepared that they won’t suddenly be happy and forget their street instincts because you’ve been able to give them a warm home, comfy bed, and a constant source of food. Its not how these dogs think. Street dogs live and survive using their instincts, these instincts are encoded in their DNA they aren’t just going to forget it.
It like being Right-handed and all of the sudden being expect to be left-handed, you’d have to fight ALL your instincts to be able to use your left hand instead of your right hand. That’s hard, isn’t it!?
Can I Train A Rescue Dog?
One of the biggest things any adopter should know and accept is the amount of time it will take for your new dog to fully relax and settle into its new life. For the 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months poster you’ve seen, each dog moves at its own pace. Street dogs will move very slowly as they learn and become a part of your world.
So what instincts do street dogs have?
Rescue Dog Rule 1: Bark first and ask questions later
These guys are always on alert, you’ll find that former street dogs are will bark at the unfamiliar, strange and unexpected noises, sights, smells etc. Its how they survive barking first ready to protect/defend themselves from whatever is invading their space.
One of my clients Murphy he was totally freaked out by wheelie bins, big stationary objects barking at them on sight – things that you and I wouldn’t think twice about.
Street Dog Rule 2: Be wary of men
While this isn’t exclusive to rescue and street dogs, it is very common. These dogs will instinctively be worried about men, to the point of being scared by the sight of them. Even puppies born in foster homes who’ve never been in a shelter or on the streets can still have this fear.
Why you ask, in places like Romania the dog catchers are men, the shelter workers are men and these workers don’t care about the dogs or their welfare. As a result, dogs are mistreated and badly handled. These bad experiences can get added to the dog’s DNA, meaning a mum will pass this fear on to her puppies who will pass it on their puppies, and so on.
Rescue Dog Training Tips: Understand Safe vs Unsafe
This is how a street dog views the world, if its familiar its safe and its strange its not safe. This way of thinking and seeing, means it takes a long time for them to understand that something is safe and they don’t need to worried by it.
Even when you get your dog to accept something as safe, you may find that every time you encounter the ‘unsafe thing’ you have to go through the whole process of showing them it’s OK. To determine if something is safe, the street dog needs A LOT of time to process what it is, how it fits into their world, its this cautious thought process that keeps street dogs alive.
You need to take plenty of care, time, patience, and love when bringing a dog into your life, you need a rewards-based training plan and you need support to from the rescue center or a trainer, or a behaviorist.
The biggest mistake any new owner can make is not being proactive at handling a behavior problem soon as they see it, these dogs won’t grow out of behaviors and they won’t ‘fix’ themselves. So if you have a training or behavior problem seeks help before it becomes bigger.
I specialize in working with and training Rescue and Adopted dogs, if you need training help head to my FREE Dog Training Telephone Consultation page and book a free telephone call with me.
Suzanne aka The Rescue Dog Ranger.