Even though this may be an older dog or an abused dog or both, the crate can be indispensable to the adjustment of the dog and the new owner. older rescue dogs may have been outside all their lives, and need to start fresh when it comes to household manners. Save your carpets and house by crate training. The crate may also afford a safe haven for the dog that is still scared and unsure. Crate training can be made easier by feeding the dog in the crate, and making sure it has a stuffed bone or toy each time he goes into the crate.
Don't Expect Too Much:
Just because the dog may be older, does not mean it will fall quickly into good habits or adjust rapidly to you and your family. Don't throw too much at the dog by enrolling in classes, visiting or having visitors, etc. Take short, frequent walks around the neighborhood or even just your yard.Familiarize the dog with the area. Always keep the dog on lead. Gradually introduce to taking short trips in the car to fun places. Allow the dog to relax into the family.
Don't Expect Too little:
Conversely, not expecting anything at all from the dog is detrimental to its future. Coddling the dog because it has been through a lot will not help the dog in the long run. Spoiling the dog "until it feels better" by letting it do things that you won't allow in a few weeks, is unfair. For example: Allowing the dog to cuddle on the bed or couch and then suddenly not allowing it. Or, allowing the dog table food "for a few days."
Expect Set Backs:
Rescue dogs, whether abused or not, have usually had a bad start in life. Poor or no training, being tied out,etc. Behavior changes will not usually take place for at least 6 weeks. This does not mean the dog is "trained". It means the behavior has started to change. The dog may slide back into old habits: I.E. messing in the house; especially when stressed.
Leadership First, Then Obedience:
Use simple handling and desensitizing exercises to help your dog adjust to having a hierarchy to follow. Many rescues have no idea that humans are in charge. They have been left to their own devices and feel they are the only one who can make decisions. They have not been handled or taught to accept handling. Using treats and patience along with daily practice, accustom the dog to all types of restraint and handling.
Be very careful about what class you enroll the dog in, but do not avoid training class. It is extremely important for the rescue dog in many ways. First, it will help you to further bond with the dog. Second, it provides socialization and exposure to other animals, a new place, and new people. Third, it will give the dog a feeling of a "job" to do which in turn, give it confidence. While fear may be a factor for the dog, using positive methods you will be very happy with the results.
Pat Yourself on the Back:
Be proud of the fact that you have rescued a dog from certain death or a life of fear and anguish. You have done a great service.
by Barb McNinch