Tips for Re-Training the Rescue Dog

Ever wondered what it takes to re-home a rescue dog, here Claire Smith of Four Legged Friends (Rescue) provides advice courtesy of their sponsor Vitalin.

When dogs come in can you instantly tell they will make good pets?

We ask the previous owner what the dog is like, but we find they generally give a list of the dog’s bad points. We like to give the dog the opportunity to have a fresh start by assessing them ourselves, see what they are like on their own in different but controlled environments. We are then able to determine whether they will be suitable in a working home or as a pet.

A cocker spaniel we had in for a while came in because he would just jump up on to work surfaces, tables, chairs and it became too much for the owners. After we assessed the dog we quickly realised that he would make a fantastic sniffer dog with his urge to jump up and root around and managed to re-home him into that environment.

Is there a re-training programme you follow?

This essentially links up with the assessment process. We have trainers who volunteer in their spare time to re-train some of the dogs. Generally, we spend a week with some dogs, but it can take a little longer to bring other dogs out of their shell. One dog used to chase cats, but with patience and a ‘clicker’ training programme the dog eventually learnt to keep its attention on the trainer and receive a treat when a cat is around.

How do you assess the new home?

We invite the possible new owners to come to the kennels and meet the dog. It is just as important to see whether the dog likes the owners just as much as the owners liking the dog. We then take the dog for a walk so they can spend more time with the new owners.

A good way to assess whether there was a connection between the dog and the new owners is when they leave. Does the dog want to follow or watch them as they leave? These are good signs that the dog has bonded.

After this we follow up with a home inspection which is more checking that the garden has high enough fences and that the doors lock properly etc.

Is there a matching process?

This depends on the rescue dog, we have to bear in mind what type of home it is so the dog will feel comfortable in their new environment. For example if there is a rescue that loves being with other dogs, they would be matched with a home that already has another dog.      

What tips can you give to owners when they get a new dog?

Establishing the rules is extremely important, especially with rescues. Owners sometimes are quite lenient because the dog is a rescue but this can have repercussions in the future. Making the dog aware of what they can and cannot do sets up the ground rules and a happy household.

Patience is key with any rescue, dog or puppy. It takes time to train and establish a bond so keep at it. The Kennel Club offer a great training scheme to get your dog’s kick started in the right direction when it comes to training.

Vitalin who support Four Legged Friends (Rescue) offer a great range of dog food which combines a perfect blend of ingredients to deliver a balanced diet for your dog, puppy or rescue. After all they deserve it!