Whole Dog Journal Tips January 6, 2014

(Do Over Dogs Tip #3) - Behavior Problems in Rescued Dogs

You have adopted your Do-Over Dog, brought him home, helped him adjust to the new changes in his world, instituted necessary management procedures, and started on an appropriate training program. In the best of all worlds, that would be all you’d need. But most Do-Over Dogs were in shelters for a reason. There are often behavior challenges that go beyond the simple need for basic good manners training.

Pre-owned dogs are more often than not surrendered to or left unclaimed at shelters and rescue facilities because of one or more difficult behaviors that the prior owner wouldn’t, or couldn’t, manage or modify. Even when the reason for surrender is “moving” or “landlord issues,” there is often some underlying behavior challenge that prompted the owner to give his dog up rather than make the effort to find new living arrangements that could include the dog.

Some of the problem behaviors are “minor,” relatively insignificant, easy to manage or modify, and/or not even a problem at all for you. People have different tolerance levels for different dog behaviors and what may seem perfectly normal and acceptable to you may have been a deal-breaker for the prior owner. Some behaviors are major, requiring a long-term strong commitment to management and/or modification. Perhaps you were informed about difficult behaviors before you made the decision to adopt – and perhaps you’ve discovered one or more behavior challenges after the fact. Perhaps you’re still discovering.

I cannot give you a timetable or predict how long it will take for you to resolve your dog’s problem behaviors. There are many variables that enter into the equation, including your dog’s past history (which you may have little or no knowledge of), what his behavior issues are, how strong the genetic influence, how long he’s been practicing inappropriate behaviors, and how successful they’ve been for him, as well as your own skill and commitment to applying management and modification protocols and the resources you have at your disposal. Many canine behavior problems are related at least in part to stress – the more stress, the greater the likelihood of significant problems. Most Do-Over Dogs have had more than their share of stress in their lives, and behaviors that may have been mildly inappropriate at one time may have intensified with several rehomings or in a stressful shelter/kennel environment.

For more additional information and advice on the best ways to bring a new dog into your life – especially a stray, a rescue or a rehomed dog, buy Pat Miller’s Do Over Dogs, Give Your Dog a Second Chance for a First Class Life from Whole Dog Journal.