6 min read

How To Train A Rescue Dog

Rescue pups are extra special 💕

If you’ve just adopted a dog from a rescue or shelter, you definitely made one of the best decisions ever!

Now that it’s all finally real, you might be wondering if training your rescue dog is any different than training any other new puppy or dog.

While there will be some totally expected adjustment periods for everyone involved, training a rescue dog is pretty similar to how you’d train any other pup!

Here’s how to do it.

Before training, let your rescue dog decompress

“I believe it is important to let a rescue dog decompress after bringing them home,” Shelby Semel, head trainer at Animal Haven rescue in New York City, told The Dodo.

The amount of time she needs to decompress may depend on how old she is, what her past was like, and how long she was at the shelter or in a foster home.

“Decompression will consist of little to no formal training, not too much handling (i.e., petting or picking up), and giving them plenty of space,” Semel said.

This allows your rescue to just chill and take in her brand-new surroundings. According to Semel, not asking too much of her will help build trust — and once she’s had enough time to settle in and get accustomed to her new life, you can then begin training!

“From there you can go on to train them like any other dog … positively,” Semel said.

Training a rescue dog

While you’re able to train your rescue just like you would any other dog (and remember that a benefit of having a rescue is she’s probably already trained in certain things) these are some tips to keep in mind when going through the process:

Treat her like any other new dog

Meaning it’s best to assume she wasn’t trained by a five-star certified trainer. Start with some basic commands — if only to give her a fun refresher course and some time to bond with you!

Set clear boundaries

While you might want to give her some extra snuggles — and there will be plenty of time for that — it’s in your best interest to make sure your dog understands boundaries from the very beginning. If you start off with bad habits — whether it’s letting her jump on the bed just this one time even if you won’t allow it in the future, or not correcting her peeing on the carpet “just this once” — it’ll be way harder for you to change those bad habits down the line if you allow them from the start.

Make a schedule

Dogs love routine, so make sure you create one for her! Setting her expectations for playing, walks, feeding and training will help set her up for success.

Having realistic expectations for yourself (and your rescue!)

Just like when training any other dog, training can be a mix of emotions for both you and your rescue pup. That means there will inevitably be some bad training sessions, and sometimes it might feel like she’s regressing.

But stick it out!

Your dog relies on you to not give up on her, and the hard work you’ll both be putting into getting her warmed up to her new lifestyle will be totally worth it — and it’ll give you both a strong, loving bond for life.

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