Importance of Training
How important is training your new rescue dog? VERY!
We all ooohhh and aaahhh over those lovely dogs out walking with their owners who can stop and visit people along the way.... or even visit other canine companions. This may be an unrealistic goal for some dogs.... and just because they are not going to play well with other dogs does not mean your new rescue dog will not make a good family pet. When we see people with dogs that clearly respect and enjoy each other, these are the dogs we turn to and say "I want a dog just like that" and often that is why many people will select specific breeds to bring into their home. But that dog didn't come trained and walking nicely on lead and well socialized.... it takes training and commitment.
Most rescue dogs come from shelters and they didn't end up in shelters because they were given a lot of training. That alone is probably the number one reason dogs end up in shelters, even the purebred dogs. It doesn't mean they are bad dogs but just no one has ever shown them what is acceptable and expected.
As a rescue, we are most concerned that any dog we place in a home will stay there for the rest of his/her life and to ensure the best results, we do require that each adopter take their dog to a basic obedience class. Even dogs that have some previous obedience training can benefit from the review and focus on building the new relationship rather than teaching formal behaviors.
Like anything, there are good and bad trainers and some use negative reinforcement (punishment based techniques) and others use positive reinforcement (food and praise techniques). As you can already imagine, we want only the positive type of training done with our rescue dogs.
The classes are usually a few weeks long and maybe 45 minutes to 1 hr a week in class, but the dogs love it as it's great socialization for them and most owners enjoy it as well. So make the start of this new relationship a good one and get into an obedience class right away.
According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a well-known behaviorist, training should not involve any negative or punishment-based components.
There should be no yelling, no hitting, no chain jerking, no hanging, and absolutely no electric shock. Each session should be upbeat and positive with rewards for jobs well done.
We believe in positive training. We do NOT recommend Cesar Milan (The Dog Whisperer). Please read, "The Dog Whisperer - Frequently Asked Questions" by Lisa Mullinax, CPDT. Another site with info relating to opposing cruel, violent or bullying methods of training or rehabilitating dogs; also for those who question or challenge pack leadership, dominance theory, dog-as-wolf and other outdated ideas can be found here.
Please also read about the "Milgram Experiment" and how it relates to training... this is very important reading!
Is your dog afraid of men?? Fear can be very tricky. In addition to finding a trainer, it would also be good to read about this issue... click here and here for more information. And yes, it needs to be said again... find a good trainer to help you!
Another issue that you might encounter is that your new dog might pace... not just a little, but a lot! Click here to learn more.
Now that you have read about the importance of training and learned about positive training, please check-out our recommended trainers.
Looking for some basics? Check-out our "5 Minute-a-Day Dog Training" page!
Training for Fosters & New Adopters from Your Dog's Friend (Rockville, MD):
The YDF Foster Dog Alliance. Training classes, behavior advice, and online resources to help foster dogs become more adoptable. In-person assistance available 3 days per week – bring your foster dog and work with a trainer on obedience, problem behaviors, and other issues! Cost: $60 for 6-month enrollment. To see the schedule and/or register, go to http://www.yourdogsfriend.info/Foster-Dog-Alliance.html.
For New Adopters:
YDF runs a monthly workshop titled “Learning About Your Adopted Dog” that focuses on training and behavior issues common to newly adopted dogs. Cost: FREE. To see the schedule and/or register, go to http://www.yourdogsfriend.info/Workshop-Schedules.html.
Charlie Joe's Graduation
Young or old, sighted or blind, all dogs benefit from formal training classes. RORR's photographer, foster, and adopter Mary Haak and her wonderful little dog Charlie Joe Shadow recently completed a Good Manners class, and here is what Mary had to say:
Charlie Joe Shadow did great tonight but then I knew he would. They combined the 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Good Manners classes because they only had enough fencing for three rings. Charlie Joe had a bunch of new dogs and people to contend with. Fortunately, none of them (dogs or their people) were barkers, so he did very well. Our instructor, Susan, introduced Charlie Joe to the other class and added that he was blind. There were lots of "oh's" and "poor puppy's." She promptly told them they need not feel sorry for him - just watch because he was going to blow their socks off, and he did. He won two of the four contests - longest sit-stay and fastest down. I have to admit that it was also probably the shortest down!
Susan has always told her classes that she doesn't give out perfect scores, so no one should feel bad. Although Shen, my other dog did get a perfect score. Susan is just trying to focus attention on those commands that need additional work. Charlie Joe got a 99 out of 100 (but she traded him a bonus point for a kiss, so really 98) for the best score in our class. He still doesn't want to do a down-stay when I walk away from him, but he did do it on the second try, so he lost 2 points on that one. Charlie Joe collected his graduation certificate, his winner medal, a kiss from the instructor, and lots of compliments from the other owners and instructors.
While Charlie Joe may have learned some manners, I regretfully admit he still has bad hair days almost every day. Guess you can't have everything!
UPDATE: Charlie Joe Shadow has just received his Canine Good Citizenship certification and is going on to become a therapy dog.