Life With A Rescued Dog

Preparation, Calm, Quiet, Caring, Relaxed, Gentle

In most cases a rescue dog comes with a mostly unknown history. A quiet, calm and caring approach is the 1st step of rehabilitation into their new life.

Prepare your yard and home

  • Check your fence lines, gate locks, plant types, house layout – on a multiple daily basis in the beginning
  • Dog-proof all spaces – the emotional state of your rescue dog will vary, so a great set up from the start will aid a relaxed transition in to the new home space
  • Consider calm zones for your new dog to have inside and outside
  • Rescue Remedy/homeopathic treatments for calm/reduce anxiety may be required
  • Adaptil (dog appeasement pheromone) spray/diffuser/collar can help alleviate stress levels during the relocation & settle in period of your newly adopted family member
  • See your vet for additional information if anxiety behaviours continue
  • Calm food: cheese and turkey. These contain tryptophan (amino acid) precursors which assist the production of serotonin ( the “feel good” hormone), which in turn leads to a calm state

Doggy diary

Gather what information you can of the dog’s previous life, including it’s experience since “rescue” and coming to you. The dog’s behaviour to situations, experiences, objects, etc. will be your guide to it’s past, and a guide to what you will need to do to help guide your dog to a successful future. Use a diary to take notes of the dog’s responses –of “good” and “not good” observations of behaviour and context/situations/environments. All involved with caring for the dog should do this. Different people will see different things. This provides a strength & weakness analysis of what to work on with your dog – SCAR provides post adoption support from our Shelter and Veterinary teams.

Baby Steps

  • Provide a calm and consistent environment and simple experiences for your new arrival
  • Allow dog to find it’s own “settle in” time too
  • See your 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months poster in your adoption pack
  • Introduce gentle variation and some flexibility to activities after the initial “settle in” period
  • Everything should be done to the dog’s comfort level – don’t push past this comfort level
  • Allow the dog to build it’s own level of confidence
  • Support this confidence
  • Work in small subtle sessions
  • Allow dog to approach on its own terms
  • Don’t continually work the dog to you – throw a treat behind the dog too. This allows approach /retreat games to find the treat; it also releases the “pressure” of approach where a dog is not confident
  • Avoid obsessive patterns – barking, staring, tail chasing, resource guarding of objects (separation anxiety indications, lack of social understanding through trauma/lack of learning experience)
  • Interrupt disruptive behaviours with the range of appropriate actions – distract and redirect to a good behaviour
  • Give your dog a “job” to do at these times – Kong, chew toy/task
  • Refer to your Dog Enrichment program in your adoption kit
  • Utilise calming effect of chewing: dog lies down to do it, blood pressure drops, chewing action releases endorphin (“feel good” hormone) = leading to calm
  • Guide to good behaviours to reward – including CALM for Frenzied energy: channel energy to calm through gentle play with a different toy/object
  • Interrupt focus on fixation – reaction/distraction technique
  • Create calm energy from yourself
  • Calming massage
  • Identify early anxiety signals before progressing to higher state of distress
  • Work on calming your dog in early states of discomfort/distress
  • Channel energy release appropriately to avoid build up of frenzied energy
  • Train your visitors to help your dog’s transition to it’s new life
  • Always finish with success! – no matter what level that success is!

Time and Patience

Allow 6 to 12 months for the dog’s full character to reveal itself – it will be revealed in layers, as well as intervals of time. Some rescue dogs can regress/become insular until more comfort and confidence builds. Supervise new and ongoing experiences to keep both your dog and any other participants safe. Release any expectations and keep supporting success for both the dog and yourself – the goal posts are never set! Training support is available from our team, or ask us for a trusted positive reinforcement trainer in your area.

Thank you for taking on an individual in need of love and care, and for giving them their Second Chance – because they all deserve one 🙂


Prepared for Second Chance Animal Rescue by: © Julie Pearce DOT DOGS Dog Training Instructor (GDTA) www.gentledogtrainers.com.au