Adopting a dog from an animal shelter is a lot like playing a hand of poker. You don't know the history of the pup, so you can't be sure you have what it takes to win the prize of a well-rounded, well-behaved companion. The good news is that, just like in poker-playing, there are things you can do to boost your odds of adopted-dog owner success. Here are a few rescue dog training tips you can learn from the gambler himself, Kenny Rogers.
Know When To Hold 'Em
Does your new dog act scared or afraid when confronted with certain noises or situation? Does he run and hide when you start up your vacuum cleaner, throw himself behind your couch when there's a thunderstorm, or whimper and cry when a person of a specific sex walks into the room?
No matter what stimuli your dog is reacting to, it's difficult to not to run and comfort them when you know that they are in distress. Those puppy-dog eyes are telling you they need love and you're tempted to hold your pup, pet him, and coo soothing words in his ear. But, guess what? This is the worst possible time for you to show your dog affection.
Your dog is exhibiting fear because they are unsure of how to react to a stimulus in their new environment. They need you to show them what this sound or sight means to them, and if you drop to the ground and wrap your arms around them now, they'll think you're telling them that the stimuli is a big deal, and they should be upset and worried about it.
Instead of holding your dog and trying to baby-talk its fear away, just carry on as you normally would so that he or she can see that whatever they are upset about is no big deal.
Know When To Fold 'Em
You're going to be playing all kinds of games with your new rescue dog -- they'll need the exercise and it will give the two of you opportunity to bond. It's important to remember, though, that letting your dog win at any type of aggressive play could teach him that he gets what he wants by being rough.
When playing with your new friend, avoiding using your actual body. Stick with games that require a toy such as fetch instead of play-wrestling with him or playing tug-of-war style games. If you can't resist the urge for a little roughhousing, you can never fold -- you have to win the game every single time.
Know When To Walk Away
There's one simple trick to stop food aggression in a dog, or to prevent it from ever occurring in the first place. The trick is knowing when to walk away from their food.
When a dog displays food aggression (growling over or guarding their food bowl), they are very explicitly saying "This is my food and I will hurt you if you get too close to it". They're wrong though; it's your food -- you're just giving it to them because it's your job to take care of them -- and you need to make sure that your food bowl-protecting pup understands this.
Tell your dog to sit and stay before even attempting to get their food dish ready. Begin dishing out their food, but cease action the moment they get up from the sitting position. Do not carry on until they are sitting again. When you finally set the food down, allow them to come closer to the dish, but keep your body between the dish and your dog. Your dog should then sit again, in front of the bowl until you give a verbal command that they may eat.
Be prepared for this to take a while the first few times you do it, but know that your pup will quickly learn that he will not get his food until he is in a calm, submissive state.
Know When To Run
Perhaps the most trying kind of rescue dog to adopt is the kind that won't stay by your side unless they're actually tethered there. If you've got a runner on your hands, take good old Kenny's advice and do not chase after that dog.
Depending on the breed of your dog, it could reach speeds of 45 miles per hour. If your pup doesn't want to get caught, you're probably not going to be able to catch him. In fact, if you try to catch him by running after him, he's going to think that you are playing a game with him and keep on trucking.
Instead, the next time your new friend is making a run for it, stop what you're doing and sit right down on the ground facing away from him. Your dog will see that you aren't playing games, and that they won't get a bit of attention until they return to you.
If you feel like you're on a train bound for nowhere with your new rescue dog, the above poker tips from Kenny are sure to help. If you've used up all these aces and your new friend is still acting naughty, consider recruiting the help of a dog trainer who has experience with rescue animals.
Check out sites like http://www.landheimk9.com for more info.