Rescue Dog Training Tips

Rescue dog training is important since you often don't know the history of the dog you have adopted. He may be fearful or may have had bad experiences with humans. Even just enrolling in a group class can help you build a relationship with your dog.

Keep It Positive

Since your dog may have had bad experiences or few positive experiences with humans, it's important to use training methods that establish a relationship based on respect, not fear. If your dog is having trouble responding to your commands, it may be because there is a communication problem, not that your dog is stubborn.

Use treats, toys and/or praise to motivate your dog to work for you. Ignore unwanted behavior, such as jumping and attention barking. Don't use harsh corrections that may cause your dog to become fearful or aggressive.

Like a Puppy

Just because your rescue dog is older doesn't mean he's ever lived in a house or been trained in any way. Treat this dog like you would treat a new puppy that has never been taught any skills. Begin rescue dog training immediately and restrict your pet's freedom when you aren't home.

If you are only going to be gone for a short time - or if you're busy and can't pay attention to your dog - place him in a crate. If your dog seems to be afraid of crates, which often happens with rescue dogs, use a baby gate to keep him in a small room, such as the kitchen or bathroom.

Don't leave your dog in his crate for longer than 4 to 6 hours. If you are going to be gone a long time, use a baby gate or X-pen. This will prevent your dog from eliminating in inappropriate places or chewing up your furniture or favorite shoes. Try to avoid leaving him outside as well, since this may lead to digging or boredom barking.


Like a puppy, your rescue dog needs to be introduced to people and things you don't want him to fear. Expose him to new people, loud noises and friendly dogs slowly. Keep your distance and reward your dog for being calm and focusing on you.

Don't allow new people to pet him right away. Continue to reward him for being calm and respect his space. If he approaches the new person, praise and reward him. Allow them to pet him only if he has approached them several times.

It's important to introduce him to people of all ages, skateboarders, gardeners, etc., but progress gradually. If your dog reacts, you're moving too fast.

Set Boundaries

Many rescue dogs came to the pound because they ran away from home, so it's important to set boundaries with your dog. Teach him not to bolt out gates and doors by putting him on leash and leading him to the boundary. Say "Wait," and stand in front of your dog.

If he moves toward the exit, don't use the leash, but block with your body and move into him to move him backward. When he allows you to take a step back, release him with a command such as "Okay" or "Release." Your dog should only be allowed to cross the boundary when he hears that word.

With this command, your pet will learn not to crash boundaries and stay in his yard, thus ensuring that he's your rescue dog for years to come.