Have you recently adopted a rescue pup or adult dog?

Here are a few must know tips:

Enroll in Obedience Class:

Assume your new dog has never had training.  Treat your shelter dog the same way you would a new puppy coming into your house. Assume he has never had any training. Even if he has had obedience training in the past, he may need a refresher after all he’s been through. Your best bet is to expect that he knows nothing. This way you’ll be pleasantly surprised if the dog already knows some basic cues or is already house trained, but you won’t be setting him up for failure with expectations that are too high.

As the responsible adult one has to be very careful in selecting classes for your dog that use modern, up-to-date, scientifically proven training and positive reinforcement.

First and foremost- make sure the training class you consider for your new dog focuses on POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT techniques.  

Positive reinforcement is reward based training scientifically proven and up-to-date research shows that dogs who are trained with this method lead WELL ADJUSTED lives, learn better & quicker and the wanted/desired behaviours are “better established” and you end up with a HAPPIER DOG and a far more stronger, healthier, TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP with your dog.   

Do some research before enrolling in just any training school.  

Ask the school what will happen if your dog gets it right and what will happen if your dog gets in wrong?

To answer the above, if your dog gets it wrong be very wary of the following:  Punishment ( like spray bottles, pinning your dog to the ground, choke chains, shouting at the dog, hitting, yanking the lead, pinching, shaking things in your dogs face are all part of negative reinforcement training- the effects of which can lead to often permanent damage, fall-out behaviours, “shut down”- often mistaken as “calm or submission” by misinformed or new owners.  This can also lead to latent aggression ( the silent biter) & recurring unwanted behaviours).  

Many self claimed trainers or unqualified behaviourists make use of the pop culture meme of “pack theory”.  This method is becoming less popular in the rest of the world as the methods are proven to have disastrous long-term effects, they make use of aversive, negative techniques and are very stressful for both the owner & the dog. 

The correct answer to the what will happen if my dog gets it right, should be that they are rewarded through praise, a game, a treat or affection.  If they get it wrong- you ignore the undesired behaviour.

“Without a doubt, the most dangerous effect of pack theory is that it encourages dog owners to take a competitive or antagonistic attitude towards their dogs – the owner must always be ready to let the dog know who is boss and to ensure that the “ambitious” dog never wins or gets the better of him. No matter how much it is sugar-coated, this is not a healthy, loving relationship. Furthermore, some dogs will react extremely negatively to such forceful handling and may become increasingly aggressive towards their owners. If someone grabbed you, threw you on your back and yelled in your face what would you do? Are we really surprised that dogs bite people?” {Blyth,T(http://www.tarynblyth.co.za/)}


So Where To Now:

So handle them with POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT methods and realise that reward based training methods are not only scientifically proven to work, but are HUMANE and ETHICAL.

Training should be FUN for both you and your dog…like reward based training, exercises involve a positive approach and you are encouraging the dog to THINK FOR HIMSELF– it’s both mentally & physically stimulating. Clicker training classes also come highly recommended. Do your research- just like you wouldn’t enrol your human kids in a school where the teachers scream, hit or yank them when they don’t listen…so too should you make sure your dogs end up at registered and qualified trainers that use MODERN techniques.

Class, trainer & behaviourist LISTINGS:

These following pup schools, dog training facilities and qualified behaviourists come highly recommended:

* puppy, kitten schools as well as beginners/adult classes & qualified behaviourists: Thinking Pets Class Listings around South Africa:  THINKING PETS TRAINING EXCELLENCE

* puppy school Steenberg/Tokai: PUPPY TRAINING WITH JOANNA

* training school for dogs of all ages: from puppy socialisation classes and Canine Good Citizen Test to advanced and competition obedience training: KOMMETJIE CANINE COLLEGE or TARYN BLYTH

*puppy, beginners, adult training Rondebosch/Wynberg: DOGHUBSA

*puppy, beginners, adult, agility training Constantia: DOG DYNAMICS BEHAVIOUR AND TRAINING

Want to study?
Interested in studying animal behaviour or doing a short course on understanding your newly adopted dog or cat : COAPE SA


Expect a Period of Adjustment:

Even though it may take a little while for your shelter dog to get used to his new home, that doesn’t mean you should put off starting an obedience program. Do not molly-coddle your pooch in the first few days- get straight into a routine. Dogs thrive on a happy, predictable daily routine. On the contrary, regular training sessions can help get him into a routine.

Starting a training program can also help you to establish boundaries for your dog right from the beginning. It can be tempting to coddle him for the first week out of empathy, but it is best to set rules asap! If you allow your dog to engage in certain behaviors when you first bring him home, such as eliminating on the carpet, or chewing on table legs, it will be much harder to train him to stop doing those things later. Starting an obedience class sets him up for good behavior, and makes it easier for him to become a happy and healthy member of your family!

When you adopt a puppy or dog from a shelter, he comes with a history, sometimes not known even to the rescuer or to the shelter. Keep in mind that the stress of this, along with whatever the dog has experienced in his past, can make him less than confident in new surroundings. Plan on giving him some time to adjust to his new home and family. Dogs can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to get used to living in a new place. Be PATIENT!