The mind of the Rescue Dog
So you want to open your heart and home to a Canine Companion?
Well stop for a moment before you rush down to you local Dog Rescue to look for a new best friend or contact a breeder to ask about a Puppy.
Take a minute to think about what you are about to do: Taking on the responsibility of a dog is no easy thing. You need to look at certain factors first. Have you got the right environment for a dog, have you got the right attitude to have a dog and the willingness to train that dog, have you got the time to exercise your dog and play with your dog and have you the funds available to pay veterinary bills when needed.
The average cost of owning a dog in the UK stands at £17000 over the lifetime of the dog. You need to be able to set aside at least 2-3 hours to interact, walk and play with your dog per day. Your attitude towards your dog is essential the thinking that a dog will just fit in is the wrong attitude we have to nurture our dogs, be it a puppy or rescue.
The exercise is the most important part of your dog’s life with you; it is their time and your time to bond with them. Without the structure breaks down and the relationship becomes unbalanced.
So take a little time to think about if you can offer all of that, if the answer is no then don’t even think about it as you will be doing a dog and yourself an injustice. If the answer is yes then which is best for you?
The new Puppy vs. The rescue Dog
When you take on a young Puppy there are a lot of initial factors to be considered:
All puppies require an initial course of two vaccinations these can be started on your first visit to your vets. The veterinary surgeon will give your puppy a full examination and answer any questions you may have.
Your Vet will recommend strategic worming for your pet. Strategic worming makes the assumption that your pet has been exposed to parasites thus causing a health risk to your pet, your family and the environment. Your Vet will also look at flea prevention,
Fleas are small, dark brown insects which live and breed mainly in the environment – 95% of the flea population will be in carpets, bedding, under skirting boards, jumping onto your pet, or you, to feed. You will need to arrange insurance and identification like micro chipping for your Puppy as well.
During the first 4 to 6 weeks of having your young puppy in your home you will be unable to walk them due to them not having been fully vaccinated. This can be a very challenging time for both Puppy and owner, a puppy’s energy is high, they are young and the lack of exercise intensifies and can cause disruptive behaviours.
Chewing and destroying anything, barking and running around, jumping up, fouling in the house, nipping and biting and sometimes aggressive behaviours toward the human. These are just some of the behaviours a puppy can exhibit within those first few weeks due to the lack of exercise.
However with the right guidance and stimulus provided by the human 98% of puppies come through this stage without too much problem. Once out walking most of these behaviours stop and that’s when the real training begins. A puppy is a blank canvas, like a sponge absorbing new things and exploring new environments.
Socialisation is one of the most important aspects of a dogs’ early development. This means mixing with other dogs, animals, children and adults, as well as experiencing lots of sights, sounds and smells. The socialised dog develops communication skills which enable him to recognise whether or not he is being threatened.
You should keep repeating exposure to potentially frightening stimuli during the first sixteen weeks of your puppy’s life. This will include noises such as lawn mowers, the phone, the washing machine and vacuum cleaner, as well as meeting and greeting all types of people. This is essentially the make or break time for your puppy, you have to set aside that time during the first 6-8 months to make sure your puppy becomes the balanced dog that mother nature has dictated for them.
Now the rescue dog is completely different, I am a real advocate of the rescue dog. Not all rescue dogs have been mistreated or aggressive. Typically the majority are house trained and properly immunized, chipped, lived around people and are well socialised. In fact the majority of the dogs have likely been well looked after just circumstances have forced them to be either handed in or abandoned.
Now this is where the rescue dogs mind differs from any other. Dog’s live by instinctual behaviour patterns, their need for stability and structures in their life out ways anything else. If this need is not met through either the human or the canine pack their mind can become unbalanced.
Your puppy goes from a structured home and pack environment and enters your home. We set the rules from day one, do everything to keep our new dog happy and balanced. Day in a day out we continue to lead and guide our new puppy. If we continue to do this our puppy will become a happy and relaxed dog for the rest of their life. The rescue dog does not have that structure or stability in its life; it has no idea why it has been abandoned and spending it’s time in a kennel on its own.
It has lost its Leader and its pack, in dog terms it has been shunned and ostracised by its pack. It is like the lone wolf, out on its own having to fend for itself. You see behaviours in a kennelled rescue dog you would not see in a dog that has lived in a home environment all its life. As previously stated the majority of the dogs have likely been well looked after, but the longer they stay in kennels the more likely they will start to exhibit nervous, anxious, unbalanced and aggressive behaviours.
Now we can accept these behaviours as a part of their past experiences or we can draw a line on their past and start again. 98% of rescue dogs are ready to move forward, they look for you to share your leadership, structure and stability. However the Human mind does not always allow us to help these dogs move forward. We see their past; we see how badly they might have had it, abandoned, lost, hungry and scared.
We instantly feel a human emotion called sympathy, we feel sorry for them. We offer our love from day one as we think this is what they have lacked since they were abandoned, when in fact the thing they have really lacked is structure, stability and Leadership.
If you watch dogs together they do not feel sorry for each other, they help each other and truly respect each other. Love is a human emotion that can actually make a dog feel anxious, nervous about our ability to help them, to lead them forward in their life. So whether you decide to take a puppy into your life or one of the thousands of abandoned rescue dogs into your life, there is one thing to remember they are no different deep down. They are all the same species, same psychology and all need the same thing which is Structure, Stability and Leadership.
There is nothing more rewarding than the true loyalty and companionship of a dog but you have to earn their respect first.