The problem with rescue dogs | And what to do…
What is the problem with rescue dogs / dogs from the pound? The first thing people jump to is their individual history. How they have had bad experiences, how they have been mistreated and so on. That is understandable and it is important. What happens from there is psychology, human psychology. People get into a mode of making the wrong that has been done right. Again, that is a great intent, but the way people go about implementing this is an utterly human way and often keeps the dog stuck and can easily reinforce existing behavioral problems.
One major way of keeping the dog glued to its history is by being overly concerned, by constantly trying to make things right for the dog, by comforting / nurturing the dog at the wrong times etc. By doing this the dog basically gets rewarded for showing a certain, lets say anxious, behavior. At the same it is made clear to the dog that there is something wrong, otherwise there would be no reasons for these people to behave in that way, which then only reinforces the problem. And on top of that the dog is “leading” with a behavior and the people are following – this in turn causes for responsibility and more stress for a dog which results in various coping mechanism which are all too often called behavioral problems. The above is obviously not only the case the rescue dog, yet tends to be more pronounced due to the owners often overly concerned / pampering attitude.
The dog moves on if we let it move on. Dogs don’t cling to the history as we do, they live in the moment, an attitude we would be well advised to adopt by the way.
Another factor normally coming into play with rescue dogs is their new owners attitude of letting them get away with more, “because he/she had such a bad time”. This again perpetuates the overall problem since without clear guidance and boundaries the dog tries do deal with situations as it sees fit. Couple that with a possibly traumatic past and the outcome is probably not pretty.
Just to make it clear I am not saying that the love and care provided by most people is not helpful. It is much needed indeed. But that is only one part of the picture – the key is to know when and how to give that love and care, otherwise you will keep your dog stuck and even make things worse.
The idea is to not treat a rescue dog different from any other dog. As it is not respectful or kind to treat a disabled person other than a non-disabled person, because we otherwise make them “less” or “inferior”. Hence just behave as if you do not have a rescue dog / pound dog with a traumatic past. Because as normal and casual with them as you can, then you allow them to just be that – a dog. Just try to leave the label behind and you might be surprised.
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