*Originally published on Wide Open Pets*
Congratulations! You’ve opened your heart, and your home, to an animal in need. Unless you pick a puppy, chances are, the people at the rescue won’t know your new furry friend’s entire backstory. Without that history, training a shelter dog can be difficult, but there are a few tips and tricks that can help make introducing an adult dog to his new home easier.
Adopting an older dog from a rescue group or animal shelter, instead of a puppy, means that the training it requires likely won’t include housetraining or even, in some cases, crate training.
Here are six of the best tips to train your dog:
Training on your own, if you have enough experience, is great. But training in a group setting with a dog trainer is even better. Training classes will quickly socialize your dog, it will teach you and your dog how to work together, and it will be a bonding experience. If you have a significant other, siblings or parents nearby, see if they can join as well.
Consistency is key with training, and the more people who know how to correctly speak to your dog, the better.
Bring treats with you that you know your dog likes. Either make your own, or let your dog sniff and decide from the training treats part of your pet store’s treat aisle. The dog trainer’s treats may not agree with your dog’s digestive system, or your dog just may not like them.
A handful of its food also works, especially if your trainer suggests not feeding your dog before class. Positive reinforcement for good behavior will be the best thing while training your new rescue dog!
Be sure your dog is wide awake and ready to learn. A sleepy dog will not be interested in training and will merely want to curl up by your feet.
It’s wonderful if your dog responds well in class. It’s even better if he/she does so at home. To help your new friend, be sure to practice everything from training consistently.
Do you remember spelling tests in elementary school? It’s the same idea. The training builds on itself, and the more you study, the better you do.
Remember, as much as your new dog is learning, you are, as well. At training, you may learn to only ask each command once. You may learn to ask the dog to “come,” or “come here,” or “here.” Every place is different, but you’re learning the language of training your dog just as much as he/she is.
Even if this isn’t your first dog, training is beneficial. Everyone from your family, and those who will be around the dog often, should also learn the training lessons.
Patience is important when training any dog (or animal, in fact), but it is particularly important when dealing with a rescue dog, who may have a past filled with undesirable experiences, suffer from various fears or just be learning things at an age far older than their puppy companions.
At the end of training, you will have a well-behaved companion. There are multiple levels of training, as well as trick training. How far you and your friend take training depends on your goals, and what the trainer thinks your dog needs. Rescue dogs sometimes have certain behavioral problems or suffer from separation anxiety due to their varied pasts. A trainer can help make a plan for you and your new friend to overcome these issues.
But, by the end, you’ll have a dog who will sit, stay, wait, leave it, come and a few other basic commands that will help you keep him/her safe and happy. Enjoy your new family member!