Understanding behaviour and training a rescue dog from abroad
Many dogs will not be ready to go on walks to start with. Owners should provide them with mental stimulation and enrichment to keep the dog busy and tire them out. We recommend an appropriately sized Kong as a starting point for many adopters.
Adopters need to understand that many of these dogs will experience or display behavioural issues. Some will become reactive to other dogs, people, or traffic on the lead.
If you think about it from the dog’s point of view, in their native country if something frightened them they would have had miles and miles to run away from it. Attached to a lead they cannot retreat away from the scary thing. The dog may feel restricted and that they have to tell the scary thing to go away.
Oakwood has found that overseas dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement training. If you are taking on an overseas dog, look for a positive reinforcement trainer in your area that has experience with street dogs.
Adult dogs learn differently from puppies and so need a trainer that understands this. Harsh methods such as prong collars, spray cans, or shock collars are extremely frightening to an overseas street dog and can create behavioural issues rather than fix them.
As they have never been in homes before, an overseas rescue dog will not have any toilet training.
In their home country they have been able to go to the toilet wherever they wanted to, whenever they wanted to. They have never been shut into a kitchen and only been given access to the garden when a person opens the door. There will be toileting accidents until the dog is settled.
Introducing a bedtime routine
Bedtimes will be a little unsettled to begin with until the dog settles in. Some dogs are fine overnight, but others prefer to be around their humans and can panic if they are left alone. Dogs should never be shut into crates or cages until the owner has worked them up to this.
Food is going to be viewed very highly as the dog has not had a regular meal all of their life. Allow your rescue dog their own space to eat their food in, and leave them alone at mealtimes.
People poking at the dog or putting their fingers in the dog’s bowl or mouth can make the dog uncomfortable. They may start to fear people coming towards them when they eat.
If people push the dog it can lead to food guarding. We advise swapping items with the dogs. Offer a treat and direct their attention to it if you need to remove a bowl, toy, or another item.