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How To Train A Rescue Dog?

At A Glance

While training, your rescue dog can be a bit of a learning curve. A little patience and care will get you a long way. A few of these are, crate training, training your dog to pee outside, and teaching it not to bite shall improve their standard of living, and give you mental peace.

Once you have the basics sorted, you can go ahead with teaching them more advanced tricks!

Last Updated on: Mar 18, 2022

The first concern of any new dog owners, especially those who have taken in rescue, is “how do you start training a rescue dog?”

Training a dog is not just about making it obedient, social, or easier to live with. Training your dog will also help it become more confident and face challenges independently.

A well-trained dog is better positioned to handle unforeseen circumstances than one who isn’t.

If you’re not convinced, read on to know why training your rescue dog should be a priority and how to train them.

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A woman training a rescue dog to sit down

Training A Rescue Dog

Pull up your socks because you’re in for an adventure. Training your rescue dog is a fun, refreshing challenge, and the rewards are worth the effort.

There are a few basic training procedures that every dog must go through in order to become a nice pet to have around. We’ve covered the most important ones below, so you can rest assured that your dog will be the ideal pet in no time.

Train A Rescue Dog To Pee Outside

Dogs tend to defecate and pee when stressed, so the first course of action should be to address anything that might make your dog anxious.

Other than this, training a rescue dog to pee outside is fairly simple. You can do it just as you would with any other dog.

Establish A Routine

  • Take your dog out at the same time every day
  • Shower it with praise when it pees outdoors. Give it a treat each time to develop a positive association
  • Take your dog to its ‘spot’ first, then play or take it out for a walk
  • If your dog does soil inside the house, leave the rags you use to clean the mess in its outdoor spot
  • Use a phrase such as ‘go potty’ to establish a verbal command
  • Develop a strict feeding routine, so your dog’s bathroom timing also becomes regular

Supervision Is Key

Keep an eye on your dog as much as possible until you are satisfied with its progress.

If you notice signs that your dog needs to go, take it to the bathroom spot immediately. Then reward it with a treat. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Sniffing
  • Circling
  • Poking around in corners it can ‘go’ in

If you notice your dog beginning to pee in the house, interrupt it and take it outside to finish.

It will be difficult initially, and your dog may slip up, but it will be properly potty-trained with time!

An image of a woman teaching a rescue dog not to bite

Train A Rescue Dog Not To Bite

Though shelters usually try to train dogs to avoid biting before they are adopted, it’s not always foolproof. There is always the likelihood that a dog will bite regardless of whether they are rescued or not.

Rescue dogs often go through emotional turmoil and may be more sensitive, suspicious, defensive, or anxious. All of this can lead to them being more aggressive than normal dogs, and more prone to biting.

However, this is not impossible to reverse. You can gradually train your dog to be a friendly fellow by doing the following:

  • Socialize it and get used to being around strangers. Practice makes perfect!
  • Have your dog spayed or neutered
  • Obedience training will help you control your dog better with simple verbal commands
  • Encourage your dog through positive reinforcement
  • Pay attention to its body language as this is how it communicates discomfort or anxiety about a person or situation
  • Let it growl, don’t stop or discourage it as this is its way of giving a warning signal


A dog inside its crate with toys

Should I Crate Train My Rescue Dog?

Crate training can be highly beneficial to your dog and make things more convenient for you. Spending time in a cozy crate with all its toys can help make your rescue dog feel safe and secure in its new home. This will also give you peace of mind, knowing your dog is comfortable and calm.

Vets and trainers thus recommend that you begin to crate train your dog as early as possible. The younger you start, the better.

Crate training also allows you to easily, quickly, and efficiently transport your dog. This is great for when you need to visit the vet or travel. Most importantly, this can be essential in an evacuation situation.

Tips To Help You Crate Train Your Dog

  • Find the right crate – pay attention to the size and materials used
  • Start crate training when your dog is tired and ready to go down for a nap
  • Use a chew toy as a lure. This will help your dog associate being in the crate with the positive experience of its toy
  • Gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends in the crate to encourage relaxation and comfort
  • Do not use the crate as a punishment. Crates must retain a positive association to keep your dog happy when it has to stay locked inside


A dog looking up to its owner while walking

How Is Training Beneficial For Your Dog’s Intelligence?

A study conducted to observe whether trained dogs are more intelligent than untrained dogs, displayed some interesting results.

One hundred and eighteen dogs were divided into three groups depending on their training experience:

  • Untrained
  • Basic training
  • High-level training

The dogs were required to perform a problem-solving task. This involved opening a box to reach the food inside it. The researcher manipulated either the paw-pad or the lid while the dog was allowed to observe them.

The resulting behavior of the highly-trained dogs was as follows:

  • They successfully opened the box
  • They spent less time looking back at their owner or the researcher
  • They interacted with the apparatus for significantly longer than their counterparts with less training

This suggests that well-trained dogs have more polished problem-solving skills. They are also relatively more proactive when interacting with new and unusual objects.

You should train your rescue dog if you want it to be independent and intelligent. But be prepared; it won’t be easy.

Dogs are difficult to train in general, but rescue dogs come with their unique challenges.

Are Rescue Dogs Harder To Train?

Rescue dogs may have a history of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. This can make them a lot more volatile compared to other dogs. The adjustment period is meant for both you and your dog.

You may have to work through its trauma and make it seem that it is perfectly safe with you. Your rescue will have to learn to become comfortable in its new surroundings and routines.

We won’t sugarcoat things: rescue dogs come with a few, maybe even many trials. However, the right amount of tender loving care and some determination, patience, and compassion will go a long way.

Things will get easier once your dog feels safe around you and in its new home. Then, you can reap the benefits and train your dog to be an obedient pet!

Remember that different dogs might have concerns requiring different approaches to solve. You shall have to deal with them appropriately. We’ve covered some of the basics below.

An image of dog scolded because of torn papers

Dog-Specific Challenges

Your dog’s needs might vary depending on its age and personality. Here is a quick look into what you should be prepared for.


They are incredibly active and social. So, if you’ve rescued a puppy, be prepared to deal with a lot of energy as it bounces around the house.

If your puppy is scared and traumatized in the beginning, it might hesitate to let out its playful side around you. Regardless, treat your puppy as you would a toddler. Indulge its whims and play with it as much as you can, and don’t forget to give its loads of pets and cuddles!

Giving your new puppy some fun toys and accessories to call its own is also a great way to let it know it is finally home. It might even encourage your pup to start getting comfortable around you.

Also Read: How to Create A Puppy Potty Schedule?

An image of a man trying to teach an anxious dog

Anxious Or Fearful Dogs

If your rescue dog seems unusually scared or anxious, then the training can wait. First, focus your efforts on making it feel safe.

Let your dog take its time, don’t try to push pets and affection. Maintain a neutral environment and go about doing your things. Once your dog is accustomed to being around you, you can try to initiate closer contact.

The key is to let an anxious dog become comfortable with the idea of coexisting around a new person. Once it feels secure in its environment and your company, you can progress towards petting and training.

Senior Dogs

They are more prone to stress and can be sensitive to new environments, strangers, loud noises, and anything unfamiliar.

Give your dog some time to make it feel comfortable and have a smooth transition. It might need a quiet space without too much stimulation, so it can calmly adjust to the many changes it has experienced.

If your rescue has physical limitations, it may also require special adaptations. This could include a ramp or step, non-slip surfaces, and an orthopedic bed.

Training senior dogs could be easier and are essential to keep their minds alert and sharp.

Now that you’re better prepared with all the prerequisites for training your dog, let’s get to the actual training!

An image of recue dogs with a woman on a ground

How do you start training a rescue dog? You begin with comfort and stability. And the rest will follow.

Training your rescue dog is a great way to safeguard its future by developing its intelligence and independence. Teaching it not to bite, pee outside, and be comfortable in a crate are all basic obedience procedures that will make your lives much easier. This will ensure that your dog is prepared to live a normal, comfortable life.

And this is just the beginning. You can teach your dog all kinds of tricks once they’ve completed their basic training!


Training dog training how to train a rescue dog

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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.