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One of the issues that often comes up with dogs and their owners occurs with rehoming dogs. Each year many dogs are turned in to animal shelters, especially adolescent dogs. This often occurs because someone may get a puppy and they aren’t quite prepared for all the work involved. Puppies are awfully cute but most puppies don’t have any manners at all when you get them. You have to do all the work to teach them their house training, not to jump on people, not to chew on things, not to dig, and so on. Once a puppy starts being naughty, a lot of people realize they can’t cope with these behaviors and the puppy or young dog ends up in the shelter.
There is nothing wrong with this puppy or young dog, of course. He simply hasn’t learned how he’s supposed to behave in our human world. He needs someone to teach him.
Rehoming dogs goes on all the time. If you have a rescue German Shepherd, for example, or some other dog that’s been rehomed, there’s every chance that you won’t have any problem teaching your new dog the things he needs to know to succeed in your home. However, you may face a few additional issues because your dog has already had one home. He may have picked up a little emotional baggage, for one thing. You don’t know what he has learned in his first home or how he was treated. Chances are that his first family loved him and treated him well. But there’s always the possibility that he was yelled at and got into trouble when he did naughty puppy things. It may take some time to win his trust.
Secondly, dogs that go through “the system” — losing their home, spending time in a shelter, being uprooted again and going to another new home — are more likely to have problems with separation anxiety. There is some evidence to suggest that dogs from animal shelters experience more separation anxiety than other dogs simply because their lives are a little less secure from an early age. This means that you will have to work especially hard to build confidence in your new dog. You’ll have to spend a lot of time working on good socialization. You should take your dog places where dogs are welcome. Invite friendly people to pet him so he remembers to like people. Encourage him to interact with other friendly dogs who are leashed so he won’t have any dog aggression issues. Make sure that he is okay with sudden, unexpected thing that happen, such as a vehicle backfiring or a cat jumping out of the bushes. When unexpected things do occur don’t pet and coddle your dog since this sends the message that he’s right to be scared. Instead, give a laugh and make light of unexpected things. Set a positive tone for your dog. Encourage him to investigate new things. Remember that you are trying to build his confidence, not soothe him.
If you do a good job of building confidence in a puppy or young dog who has been in a shelter, you can avoid problems with separation anxiety later. This will make life much better for both of you.
You can also help your rehomed dog by going to training classes with him. Training classes are a terrific way to build confidence and to deepen your relationship. Most dogs enjoy finding ways to try to please their owners and you will find new ways to communicate with your dog. You and your dog will both be able to take pride in your training accomplishments.
Rehoming dogs is not always easy but it is definitely worth the effort. It gives many good puppies and young dogs a second chance. Whether you have a rescue German Shepherd, a rehomed Chihuahua, or simply a crossbred dog, we can all use a second chance.