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Top Five Behavioral Issues in Rescue Dogs

A Dog's Life

I wanted to share with you all what we think are the top five behavioral issues you can expect within the first month of fostering or adopting a rescued dog. All dogs are different but these issues are what we deal with most. We try in our foster homes to work on these things, but sometimes just a transfer to a new home can set off triggers that may have been unseen up until the dog becomes truly comfortable.

Starting from the bottom, we'll work our way to the #1 issue.

#5 – High excitement levels. (over excitement to normal stimuli, i.e .: shaking, whining, barking for regular events)

#4 – No sense of personal space (jumping, mouthing, shadowing, etc)

#3 – Anti-social behavior towards people or dogs (growling, lunging, barking, biting, etc)

#2 – Destruction of property (marking, eating furniture, chewing carpet, breaking things, etc.)

#1 – Running away/escape artist (breaking out of kennels, climbing fences, digging holes out of the yard, bolting, etc.)

A few things to remember: Don't leave the dog alone in the yard or the house for the first few days as they will probably experience separation anxiety and become destructive, or try to escape. The best thing is to prepare by giving yourself a few days to work with your dog on crate training, potty training and boundaries (off limits areas, learning to stay, not bolting through open doors, etc). That way when you need to return to your normal life, your dog will be ready to be left alone for a few hours at a time. Knowing that your new dog will probably be scared and unsure of his new home, most people mistakenly give the dog too much freedom and bend the rules in an attempt to bond with the dog. This only leads to your dog feeling even less sure of his surrounding and your ability to keep him safe. The best thing to do is to set a few rules right away (such as not on furniture, not in kitchen, etc) because this allows you to start showing your dog that your are consistent in your behavior, and also creates structure for your new dog. These rules can be eliminated or modified later on once structure has been established. In the first week it is best to provide a crate for your dog somewhere in the house so that you can give them a safe space to observe this new environment and learn to be relaxed in it. Without a crate, (or a dog bed for more confident dogs) dogs tend to hide or cling to you in the beginning and neither of those are healthy or productive.

Think about it like bringing a new roommate into your house. You probably wouldn't give them access to your entire home right away and you might also tell them the house rules...it only serves to create a more harmonious environment for all. Dogs thrive with rules and structure; it makes them more confident, less excitable and all around happier knowing they can count on their owner to take care of them in all situations.

To learn more about how to deal with each of these issues, check out the training blog on our website at http://www.marleysmutts.com, where we will be posting different segments regularly. You will also find information on our website about how to foster a dog and how to adopt a dog.

You can also contact Lisa Porter for private training in Kern County at [email protected].