Training Your Romanian Rescue Dog

Thanks to increased public awareness, more and more people choose to provide a loving home to rescue dogs.  It can take about 6 months for a rescue dog to fully settle into a new home, sometimes longer, so you need to prepare yourself for a long haul of exciting, rewarding and sometimes frustrating experiences during that period.

From a training perspective, there will be some extra considerations you will need to bear in mind and these dogs to a large extent have had bad experiences in the past.  Most of our dogs have had little or no training at all.  Everything needs to be done at their pace.  Training requires trust between you and your dog.  Dogs will be more responsive to training when they have accepted you as their leader and they feel safe with you.  With a rescue dog, this may take days, weeks or even months, but you must allow time for this to develop before trying to start training.  These dogs need time to adjust to living in a home first.

With our rescue dogs, more often than not you will have to start training from the beginning.  Training to start with could mean just getting a lead on, or teaching your dog to feel confident outside the home.  In the beginning it will be extremely basic training.  As with all training, you should bear in mind the following:

  • Always carry out training in a quiet spot in the home with no distractions.
  • Once you start training outside the home, and until you are absolutely certain you dog has good recall, ensure all training takes place in a secure area or using a long training lead.
  • Make training a positive, pleasant and rewarding experience, so never raise your voice or discipline your dog during training exercises.
  • Rewards are your dogs primary motivator, so before you start training, experiment to find out which treats or toys they like the most.  With rescued dogs, extra patience will be required here.  It may even be that your dog initially seems to have little interest in treats or playing. In which case, you may need to withhold treats for a period before starting training sessions.  In extreme cases, hand feeding your dog at meal time is also one way for your dog to learn that you are its food source and means of survival.
  • Don’t try to achieve to much in one go.  All trained behaviour will need a many sessions to master.
  • Keep training for specific behaviours to 3-5 minutes at the most, but repeat regularly.
  • Try to accompany all verbal commands with a distinctive and consistent hand signals.
  • If you are new to dogs, read up on dog body language so that you understand when your dog is trying to tell you it is stressed.
  • Always stop while your dog is still interested and always stop when you feel yourself getting frustrated.

Dog training classes are wonderful way to develop your training skills and allow your dog to socialise with other dogs.  However, rescue dogs may have problems dealing with large groups of people or other dogs.  Choose a small, quiet class with positive reward based training only.  Make your decision based on your experiences of walking your dog in public places, how they react to strangers and other dogs.  If you decide that training classes are appropriate, it’s a good idea visit a class without your dog to make sure it will suit them.  All training should be fun for you and your dog.

We recommend you read The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson

Good luck!