Training Your Rescue Dog

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Training Your Rescue Dog

Nothing tops the feeling of welcoming a lovable rescue dog into your family. Four-legged friends adopted from rescue or animal shelters can make wonderful forever friends and add joy and unconditional love to your family. However, training your Austin rescue dog without help can be challenging. Unfortunately, many people don’t do their homework before adopting a dog, so many rescue dogs return to shelters.

Rescue dogs may have special needs and respond differently to training, especially if they are older dogs and beyond the puppy stage. If you are considering opening your home to a new family member or have recently adopted a shelter dog in Austin, the team at Walk! ATX wants to make the transition easier for you and your new pet. Let us help take the mystery out of training your rescue dog.

Before You Train Your Rescue Dog

Stop. Before you attempt to train your new rescue dog, take a little time to do your homework and understand your new family member’s needs. You and your rescue dog will have an adjustment period. Your fearful dog needs time to acclimate to their new surroundings and feel confident they are safe. Before you dive into a training regime, be patient and give your friend time to adjust. Make them comfortable, keep feeding and walking routines predictable, and show them some love. You can’t train your new pup until it acclimates to its new home and the people it shares that home with. Introduce your dog slowly to all your family members.

Next, you must learn as much about your new pup as possible. How old is your dog? Have they been trained before? What is their veterinary history? Did you get the dog from a shelter and how did they behave in the shelter? Do they have a history of abuse, trauma, or behavioral issues in their previous homes? Understanding your dog will help you craft a unique training routine that meets your goals and addresses your dog’s needs. Specific words, movements, or actions may trigger dogs with a history of abuse or anxiety from previous owners. Learning as much about your pet as possible and watching how they react to things in your home can help you come to rescue dog training from a more productive and less frustrating angle for you and your friend.

How to Train a Rescue Dog

Training Your Rescue DogYou can prepare for training once you learn more about your four-legged friend and they have adjusted to home life. Dogs prefer routine, so establishing a set schedule is important. If feeding, walks, and bedtime are already on a set schedule, add training time to your new pup’s routine at the same time each day if possible. Feed your dog food and water before you train your dog.

Before training starts in earnest, ensure you have the right equipment, such as a leash, harness, crate, and treats. Rewards-based training is the gold standard and should always be used to teach dogs new behaviors. Incorporating your dogs’ favorite treats into your training routine can help make the process simpler and more rewarding.

While many shelter dogs already have some basic training, it is always best to start from square one. Set boundaries. This strategy also helps to build trust between you and your dog and establish that you are the alpha. Basic commands include:

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Stay
  • Come

Set aside a specific time each day and work with your new family member. Minimize distractions so your dog can focus and break sessions into small, manageable timeframes to prevent boredom and frustration. Sitting is one of the most straightforward commands for your dog to master.

  • When your dog is standing, hold out a treat near their nose.
  • Move your hand in an arc over the dog’s head. When the dog raises its head to follow the treat, it naturally tends to sit. As soon as the dog sits, offer positive reinforcement and give the dog the treat.
  • Practice multiple times and use the cue word sit as the dog moves to the sitting position.

Use the same positive reinforcement techniques for other good behaviors, especially house training. Potty accidents are common for a dog in a new home in the first few days or weeks. Be patient and offer praise. When your new dog potties outside, offer treats when the dog comes home. Use pee pads in your home until your dog becomes accustomed to your house and the dog is comfortable with the new routine. You can also keep accidents to a minimum by offering plenty of potty breaks and sticking to a schedule so your dog knows what to expect. Keep your door closed and let the dog feel that it can only pee and/or poo outside.

Why You Should Use a Professional Trainer Like Walk! ATX

Walking into a new environment with new people is stressful. At Walk! ATX, our professional Austin dog trainers can give you and your new family member all the tools you need to have a happy and successful relationship. Our basic obedience training is an excellent foundation to help you and your rescue dog learn the essentials while bonding. We also offer long-term behavioral modification training perfect for exhibiting aggressive behavior, separation anxiety, and compulsive behaviors, common traits in certain shelter dogs.

Set your dog up for success! Call our Austin dog training team today at (512) 655-9557 or reach out online for more information and to register for one of our exceptional dog training programs.

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