Friday, July 16 2010 @ 03:56 PM EDT
Contributed by: erik
THE BASICS ABOUT GERMAN SHEPHERD FROM RESCUE
TRAINING, FEEDING AND BASIC CARE OF YOUR NEW RESCUE DOG
Dogs that come through rescue have been abandoned, possibly abused and surely traumatized. For your pet, there is simply no kind way to give them up. In the dogs mind he is thrown into a strange environment, even if that is a great place with loving people, where he is in unfamiliar surroundings with many unknown factors. If the dog winds up in a shelter, at least in this area of Florida, he will be well cared for both mentally and physically. He still will feel alone in his pen and may begin to quickly regress.
German Shepherds do not do well in shelters for extended periods. They seem to withdraw and become protective of their new surroundings. They may begin to forget their house manners and become overly excited or depressed being alone in their pen. No one can tell what the dog is thinking but his actions need to be evaluated by an experienced handler in order to decide if that dog would be able to be placed with our rescue.
We look for well stabilized and social pets that have no people or fear aggression. We test these dogs for food aggression, what training they have had and their temperament before we accept them. Once we do accept them… it is dog nirvana here at South West Florida GSD Rescue.
Training is the most important factor in having an adoption work for all concerned. If you get a dog who needs to re-learn his skills, training is the only way to get him back to a manageable level. Training can be done professionally in a private setting like your home or at any recognized school. Training is the best method to bond with your new pet. Price is never the object but the skill of the trainer and quality of the course make the difference. Personally I do not think titling a dog is a necessary requirement to prove a dog is trained to a certain level. Many people find that GSD’s are so eager and able to learn that offering them continual stimulation in the form of training is the ultimate way to bond with your dog. GSD’s are clever and require continual challenges and rewards for learning all the while having fun with their owner. Give them a job each day like learning to get the paper, ringing a bell when they have to go out, play catch or frisbe with them, or swim or run with them on your bike makes for a dogs perfect day. Just having long walks or dog park visits will make your bond stronger. No matter what you do with your GSD, he or she will love you for it. No matter how simple the training exercise the dog will respond like it is getting his doctorate.
A large GSD must be under your control. The only way to insure your dog will not hurt someone, overtly or inadvertently, is to make sure that he knows you are the boss and what behavior is expected from him at all times. Whether your dog is on lead or off, you need to be in 100% control of his actions. Someone always needs to be the alpha dog, and if you are not, the dog will be! GSD’s are very lineal thinkers and need to know what to do and when. If your dog decides how to react to some stimulus on his own, you the owner can be in big trouble should that decision involve unsuspecting people, other dogs or property.
In the case of rescue dogs, their prior knowledge, if any, cannot be relied on from day one. It is the new owner who must take a demonstrative role in getting the dogs respect and controlling and guiding his actions. Training should always be done in a positive manner. Many GSD’s are sensitive while others are hard headed. You need to find out what motivates your new dog and train him in a way complimentary to his personality. Too harsh a treatment may make him shut down or become aggressive, too soft may not work to control him. Ask your trainer, or ask us, for advice when it comes to a particular dog you get.
Do not wait to begin training. Start it the day you get home by establishing his place to sleep, to eat, his permissions on run of the house, his area to pee and poo and his times to go out. Leave nothing to chance and surely do not leave it up to the dog to make these decisions.
GSD’s love to please you. They will do everything they can to get you to smile and reward them with a ‘good boy’ and a rub. Hands on is the main thing you need to quickly establish. Love your dog by showing him affection in a smile, a soft or squeaky voice, in constant rubs and eye contact attention. Praise him when he does well as that is the key building block for successful training at any task.
I suggest using a prong collar for all basic training as that is the most humane device suitable for controlling a large dog. For general use a Martingale collar works just fine on the same principal.
Be consistent but allow everyone in the home to provide training and practice so that what he learns is useful to any handler and especially those who live with the dog. Voice commands and at least initially physical direction work best because the dog may not understand your command, given he has a history of training elsewhere. A puppy starts fresh, a rescue dog has some re-learning issues that need to be worked through. Once they understand what you want, the next steps come rather easily. If the dog does not get what you want, training becomes frustrating for both you and your new pet. Do not get frustrated. Just imagine if you had to learn from the dog. When he barked, he would be expecting you to do something, but you have no clue what he would be asking for. As I hope you are somewhat smarter that the dog you get, in reverse roles, you would give the dog an easier time and show him the skill needed before getting frustrated and taking that out on him.
When you first get your new pet home, choosing the best food is important. Any quality brand is good but ask around as to what he was eating and slowly move him from that food to your new choice. Be consistent with what you feed him and when. Over feeding is bad as it forces your pet to carry extra weight. A good physical shape and appearance makes for his best playing weight. Make sure your pet has plenty of water 24/7. This is essential here in Florida and also necessary for him to properly digest dray food. I strongly suggest 1 raw meatball with each meal, about 1 inch in diameter. They will love it and it also is great if you have to give them a pill which can then be stuffed inside. Raw meat is great for their fur as well. Do not forget supplements and be consistent with giving your dog heart worm prevention in what ever source you or your vet choose.
Meal times should be preset because after meal time comes poop time. If these times become irregular you will always have issues in stabilizing your pet. It is far better to have a consistent time to eat and sleep, pee and poo and play as your pet will respond better to everything that is done on a schedule.
You may never know what your pet has been through nor if he was abused or mistreated. Some pets suck it up and are just responsive to their new environment and do not reflect their past in their present actions. Pets in most cases live for the moment and only rarely do they revert to a prior time. In some cases they may shy away from a raised hand, a scolding voice, a newspaper that may have been used to hit them or worse. You need to understand that you cannot control these thoughts in your pet, only deal with not providing any known negative stimulus to him. Respect that a rescue dog has a history and go slow in all areas of socialization and development.
Make sure your pet has a place that is his. A create or, as I call it, ‘house’ makes for a safe place to rest, sleep and even eat in some circumstances. Having a loving owner, good food, kindness, a soft bed, fun toys and praise will be all your dog needs to love you back and live a long quality life.
Dogs should never be left outside nor chained or neglected. Rescue dogs especially have seen enough of that, and we at South West Florida GSD Rescue insist that no dog we adopt out live outside, nor in confinement or in any condition that would be detrimental to your pet.
All dogs should see a Vet immediately after becoming s member of your family. When we deliver a GSD to you, he or she will always be spayed or neutered, 95% chipped, all shots, flea free, wormed and HW negative or HW treated. We will give you all medical records we have and you should in turn deliver these copies to your vet. We will tell you all we know about the pet medically but many times large chunks of this history are totally unavailable and unrecoverable. Do not forget to register your pet with the data base for the chip he has or to properly register him in your town or county which is required by law.
If you have questions regarding the proper care of your pet, please do not hesitate to ask us. If you have medical; questions make sure your dogs sees his Vet regularly and his shot records and heart worm treatments are always up to date.
We at South West Florida German Shepherd Rescue are always looking for good adoptive parents. If you know people who are looking for a dog, please do not hesitate to contact us for an interview and possible placement of one of our rescues.