Training a Rescue Dog

In honour of our Wilsons to the Rescues month, we've teamed up with Rosie, founder and Head Trainer at Paw Skills Dog Training Academy, to give you the best tips and advice for training a rescue dog.

It’s tempting to rush into seeing what your new addition can learn but take it slow! There are things in training that often get overlooked but they are the important for the foundations of your training journey.

Bond - The first thing I do when welcoming a rescue dog into my home is work on our bond. Here are things you can do to help build your bond with your dog:

• Gentle strokes for short periods of time

• Play - wiggle a toy around, throw a ball for them etc.

• Offer them a chew that they can take away and enjoy where they feel safe

• Talk to them - just sit and talk to you dog, tell them about your day. 

Trust - whether your new addition went through trauma or were well loved but surrendered, they will be experiencing a lack of trust and may be uncertain about situations such as handling, the car, going to the vets etc. 

Socialisation - Things are going to be super scary at the moment for your dog. Even though they may be older treat them like a brand new puppy. Plan your socialisation, limit their exposure to new things and reward lots for new experiences. 

Things to remember: 

• Emotional responses - these can often look like ‘bad behaviour’ and present as barking, scratching, chewing, howling etc. It’s important to remember that your dog is not trying to be naughty but may be struggling with that environment or task so take it back a few steps. 

• Reward Repeat - everything good your rescue dog does reward it! Did they sit down nicely at dinner and not beg? Reward! Did they have a wee outside? Reward! Did they take a treat politely? Reward! It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant it may seem - it will make a difference to your dog so always reward.

Learn more from Rosie at her blogs focused on What to look for when rescuing a dog and Bringing home a rescue dog.