How to Train A Rescue Dog in a Gentle Way


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If you have adopted a dog from a rescue group or from a shelter, then you deserve to be given a pat on the back. Dogs and other types of pets that are adopted from shelters can make great pets, and no matter what their story of why they have landed in a shelter, with patience, time, and training, your rescue dog would be happy and become a well-adjusted family member.

Take some of your time to learn how to socialize and train your newly adopted pal. You can check out our following tips below on how you can train a rescue dog in gentle, and in an effective way.

Things to Know When Adopting a Rescue Dog

You should understand several things before adopting a rescue dog to prepare yourself. Most rescued dogs have mostly spent their lives in cages and such, with minimum human contact. Therefore, most of them don’t know how it feels to live in a home.

Some of them don’t even know about the stairs, noises from dishwashers and televisions, how to interact with kids, vacuum cleaners, and other items that “normal” dogs should know about.

At first, your newly adopted dog may not trust you, or any other human beings, which could lead it from barking or snapping at you. But if you approach him gently, and used positive, kind, and gentle training techniques, you may become your pet’s first person to trust.

Here are the common behavior conditions that are seen on rescued dogs:

  • Bites at people out of fear
  • Scared of loud noises
  • Fear of human beings
  • Scared of the outdoors
  • Difficult to house train

So don’t expect them to know the following below once they get to your house.

  • Be held on
  • Can walk on a leash
  • Goes outside to poop or pee
  • Play with doggy toys
  • Accept treats from your hand
  • Comes to you when called
  • Accept petting gestures

The reaction and fear level of rescued dogs can vary depending on what they have been through. Some would be too aggressive to get near to, while some would bark, bite, or snap at you when you get too close. This is the reason why we have prepared this guide for you to help you gently train your adopted dog.

6 Ways to Train a Rescue Dog

Whether you got your from a breeder, shelter, rescue group, or pet store, no matter how old, young, small or large they are, it’s important to teach them with some of the basic training techniques.

Besides making them behave better, your rescued dog would have a better relationship with you. In addition, training them what they can or cannot do and to always follow your commands, can ensure their safety in certain situations.

Here are some 6 gentle training tips for rescued dogs:

1. Give them Time to Adjust

When you adopt a dog or puppy, they would come with a history, but some dog shelters don’t mention this to the adopters unless they asked for it. Also, remember that their stress along with their past experiences can make the dog less confident in their new surroundings.

Therefore, give him time to adjust to his new home and family until gets used to it. Their adjustment period can range from a few hours to a couple of months in getting used to their new place. So during their adjustment period, be careful around them and make them feel safe and comfortable.

2. Keep Your Distance and Set Some Boundaries

Training begins as soon as you bring your rescued dog to your home. So instead of petting and cuddling with him on the first week, you should set some boundaries like teaching them how to keep off on the sofa (unless you want them to stay there), not to chew on the furniture legs and carpets, and others.

No matter how tempting it is to cuddle with them on the first week, you should first set some boundaries as it would make it harder for you to train them later on.

3. Set a Routine

Spending time at a shelter or rescue group can be quite stressing for your newly adopted dog. So by making a daily routine for walking, feeding, bedtime, and playtime, you can start providing your pet with some stability. In most cases, setting up a routine can help with his adjustment period.

4. Assume Your Dog Has Never Trained Before

Treat your rescue dog like how you would treat a puppy when coming into a new house. Even if the dog has been trained before, he may need to have a bit of a refresher for all that he has been through.

Don’t expect that he knows anything to be pleasantly surprised when you realized he knows some basic commands, such as sit, shake hands, or fetch. Be sure to train him with gentleness and positive reinforcements to prevent him from getting scared. Keep the training session short at first and low-stress.

5. Consider Crate Training

Just like a puppy, you should also introduce your rescue dog to crate training as soon as you can. This way, you can work on housebreaking and become comfortable knowing that your dog won’t get into trouble while being unsupervised.

This is also helpful for him as he can have his own place that he can go to in case he gets overwhelmed. This will also help him get settled in with his new home.

6. Start an Obedience Class

Just because your new dog is adjusting to its new place, doesn’t mean that you should also put off on beginning an obedience program. In fact, starting this program can set him on having good behavior right on the first day. But remember to be gentle with him, do not shout or hit him when he does something wrong as they understand this by hitting them.

Also, know that dogs can be more at ease when they know your house rules. They crave for predictability and structure, so training them properly from the first day up to present can be the start of one of the best things that you can do for your new buddy.


Training a dog whatever their age, gender, or where they came from can be easy as long as you have put your mind to it. And before you begin of training them yourself, you should first ask yourself if you have enough patience to it and can do it continuously, once your answer yes to both questions, pick up your rescue dog and start training him in a gentle way.

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