How to Help Your Rescue Dog Overcome Behavioral Issues

Posted by Amber King

When many rescue dogs enter new homes, they are scared, anxious, and lack training.

When you met at the shelter, his soulful eyes and sweet personality melted your heart, but now that you've brought your new rescue dog home, his behavioral issues are putting a crack in the picture-perfect future you had planned.

He's been abandoned, passed between owners, and possibly even abused, and those trials have resulted in behavioral issues that could include fearfulness, resource guarding, destructive chewing, and even aggression.

Adopting your new family member from a shelter is a rewarding experience for both you and your dog, but first you have to overcome those behavioral obstacles. Here are three tips to help your rescue dog become a valued, well-behaved member of your family.

Provide a Safe Space

Puppy blocking its ears and looking up

Regardless of your dog's background, the fact that he wound up at the shelter means he has most likely experienced some kind of emotional or physical trauma. Entering a new environment is an intimidating experience, and many behavioral issues are your dog's outward expression of the fear, anxiety, and vulnerability he's feeling inside.

Set up an area of your home that is 100% his. It could be a crate or a mat on the floor, but it needs to be an area where he can escape to when he becomes overwhelmed by all the new people, smells, and sounds.

Adjust Your Training Methods


Dogs are like people; they learn at different paces and by different methods. What works for one dog may not work for another. It may be frustrating when your pup doesn't seem to be catching on to the command or behavior you're trying to teach him, but it may not be his fault.

It's your responsibility to try different training methods to find what works for him.

Instead of scolding your dog when he does something wrong, try rewarding him when he does something right. That something doesn't even have to be a trick. It could be calming down after a bit of excitement or laying peacefully on his mat while you go about your business. Recognizing good behavior is often a more rewarding method than correcting bad behavior.

Be Consistent


Once you find the right training method, stick to it. It may seem hard to believe, but dogs actually like rules. That doesn't mean they'll always follow them, but knowing what they can and can't do gives them confidence and stability in their otherwise unpredictable lives.

If you set a rule, like no licking the dishes in the dishwasher, never falter on it. It doesn't matter if you've had a long day and all you want to do is sit on the couch. If your dog is breaking a rule, you need to go over there and enforce it. Enforcing it could mean a verbal "no" or a timeout, but if it doesn't happen every time, your dog will never learn.

The best thing you can do to help your rescue dog overcome his behavioral issues is to provide him with a stable, loving environment. Be patient and don't expect big changes to happen overnight. Take note of every small victory, and with dedication and time, your new rescue will soon be your new best friend.

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How to Help Your Rescue Dog Overcome Behavioral Issues