Let’s stop using the “my dog is a rescue and was abused” excuse please!
One of the most interesting things we see with “rescue” dogs is that they are often not moved up to “rescued” status. So many people hang on to the story of how the dog used to be, sometimes even guessing, without knowing, that really bad things may have happened, when they might not have! Even if terrible, awful things did happen to the dog you rescued, this dog now has an incredible opportunity to move past the bad stuff.
We recently spoke to a potential client who had been told by another dog trainer that their 3 year old dog was likely “unable to change” because of the “past trauma or abuse it may have suffered prior to their adopting/rescuing it.” We were flabbergasted. There are 2 problems with this “diagnosis.” First, nobody knows if there was actual trauma or abuse. It is an assumption, and one that leads to dis-empowering the dog and his people. Second, we KNOW that you can teach an “old” dog new tricks. We help people’s dog learn better ways of behaving, every day. And at only 3 years of age, right when the dog has matured and is showing behaviors that are likely occurring due to lack of training, to label this dog “unlikely to change?” To be honest, this is infuriating and not at all helpful to extending the life of the dog. If a trainer lacks the skills to help someone, we would hope that they would give the dog a chance, and refer the family to a more qualified trainer.
Once the rescued dog is adopted, it’s now a new family member and no longer in need of rescue-ing! Now the dog can move forward in his/her new world, and has the opportunity to become the best dog he/she can possibly be. This change in mindset is important for the dog and the new owners, so they can develop a better relationship.
We believe that dogs understand many of our thoughts… so what we think about and how we think about the dog does make a difference. Instead of getting stuck on the rescue story, think about the great things your new dog brings to the family and also about the overall outcome you expect from your new dog. This can make all of the difference with your new dog. Happy rescue-ing!
By the way, the adorable dog in the photo is Sherry’s girl Nala. She was “rescued” in 2005, and they haven’t looked back since!