Here is my personal take on developing a relationship with your new rescue GSD. JUST LOOK DOWN
Many of our adopters ask the question, “what happens if my dog runs away?” My answer is simply “happy dogs don’t run away”.
Rescue dogs are typically happy dogs. They know when they have been saved and by whom. They know when they are in trouble and in physical danger. They understand what it means to be locked away in a shelter, devoid of personal attention and the love only an owner can give. They all too well understand the despair only they can feel when the kennel door slams shut behind them. They know who gives them hope and they remember all the good and bad they have experienced, but one thing is for certain they live in the moment and can accept change and adapt to current situations better than we can.
Don’t think for a moment that most dog breeds, especially German Shepherds are not thinkers. They have decision making power based on their respective history with humans and with their surroundings, but more-over they base their decisions on issues happening in the moment. The here and now dictates how they will react to situations. Kindness is registered with the animal from the time you meet your new friend. Kindness is reinforced for every moment you two are together. You become his primary source of protection, food, love, shelter and direction. Dogs, remember are pack animals and look for a leader before accepting that role for themselves. Dogs know who love them and they know who doesn’t. A dog recognizes and analyzes everything about everyone they meet, from their heartbeat to the excretions you give off that are undetectable to us. The view body language so acutely that everyone should trust their dog perceptions before trusting their own eyes. Our own pets see us as part of a pack. You may be the alpha, or you may not. You are the deliverer of food and water and you have the power to open the door and institute play. Even if you are a weak leader, you fill much of the criteria your dog needs to provide a basis for respect.
Unlike a puppy that has grown up with mom and dad since they were 9 weeks old and relied on them for everything, rescue dogs need reinforcement. Obviously providing them with their basic needs accords the giver a position of authority, but respect is an earned characteristic of any relationship. Respect comes from providing love and nurturing the relationship to develop trust. It is reinforced by play, interaction, touch and training which especially establishes the alpha position and pack hierarchy. It is compounded and grown by consistency and the quality of the time spent together. Since these thinker dogs, like GSD’s, can use, accept and compile all of these traits to bond, at times faster than many other breeds, their desire to be with you grows exponentially. No one can say for an absolute fact that your dog, given the proper home and family, will never run away, the likelihood of Fluffy the rescue dog leaving a good thing is remote. This is not to say that your dog may leave the back yard to visit a neighbor, chase a squirrel or just be bad, but in my experience if you want to find a happy dog, just look down.