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3 Ways To Help Rescue Dogs!

Updated on August 24, 2017
SheilaSchnauzies profile image

SheilaSchnauzies is a Miniature Schnauzer rescuer, writer, crochet designer, gardener, crafter, wife, mom & friend living in Omaha, NE.

3 Ways You Can Help Rescue Dogs With Problems

How many times has a lump risen in your throat while watching all those faces on TV, set to beautiful music? You know the ones... the old dog gazing off into the distance, wondering when his beloved owner who just died will return for him; the cat with the lost look who ended up a means of torturing her owner when the evil boyfriend tossed him out the window in a final vicious fight; the adorable Chihuahua who spent her life producing profit in a puppy mill, rescued by a well meaning person, then surrendered when her problems proved too much to handle.

Yes, you know the kind of faces I'm talking about. In this photo you're meeting one more scared, sad and confused face, that of Scheultzie the Miniature Schnauzer. Scheultzie came into my rescue, Sheila's Schnauzies, when his owners divorced and neither party wanted him. Scheultzie had been living for months sharing a kennel with his Dalmatian furfriend. Ungroomed, unloved, un-cared for. Thankfully Scheultzie's story has a very happy ending, and I'll share that shortly. But you'd be amazed if you knew how many Scheultzies there are out in the world, all needing someone's help.

Many of us are moved by these images to donate and help wonderful organizations like the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, and others. There are even some wonderful people who donate to small private breed rescues like mine, Sheila's Schnauzies Miniature Schnauzer Rescue & Sanctuary. That is "Way Number 1" to help.

Some of us are inspired to do even more... we find a local organization that helps rescue dogs, and we spend some of our free time volunteering! We walk dogs at the shelter, groom them, spend time just being with them and give them the gift of love and attention. Donating to any organization that helps rescue dogs is "Way Number 2" to help. I'll give you some convenient links to consider here.

A few of us take the urge to help to a different level - we go to the local pound or contact a breed rescue and make the decision to give one very special dog a forever home! That is "Way Number 3" to help. I'll show you how to find a local group who just might need your help.

If you've ever done any of these things, in my opinion you've earned some special stars in your crown! I've been privileged to teach all the information here to my amazing volunteers. They deserve a lot of stars too!

If you've thought about adopting a rescue dog, or if you've recently done so, I need to tell you about some of the challenges you may encounter with your new furkid. Some of them, sadly, are very common. But if I can teach you ways to work with your new dog's challenges, you'll be far more likely to see progress and have a wonderful forever companion too!

My Dogs' Favorite Brush... And Mine!

How To Be Ready When You Adopt A Rescue Dog

Here are the basics - you can always add more later. In the picture, my rescue kids enjoy the new blankies made for them by one of our wonderful volunteers!

Your rescue dog will need:

- A safe place to get away. If the dog is used to being in a kennel, go for that in the largest size you can work out.

-Blankets, a small pillow, something to comfort the dog. Dogs don't care if they're nice or have fancy designs on them.

-Water and food bowls that are hard to turn over. I use my late mom's Vitacraft stainless steel saucepans!

-A stuffed animal in case they like those

-A hard tennis ball or Kong toy for chewing

- Any toy they may have brought with them from their prior life.

- If possible, the same food they've been eating (ask the shelter or rescue). If not, a good quality real chicken based food is least likely to upset their tummy.

Tell Us Your Experiences...

Baxter, An Owner Surrender
Baxter, An Owner Surrender

Have you ever adopted a rescue dog?

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5 Behaviors To Watch For In New Rescue Dogs

When you are adopting a rescue, get as much information you can about the dog's past life and recent experience. Hopefully the rescue or shelter will be able to tell you something. Be a detective!

  1. Food Aggression. Carefully try poking the food bowl with a cane or object similar in length. Does the dog growl or show any sign of aggression, or just follow the bowl? If there is aggression, you will need to leave the dog undisturbed while eating.

    Do you have other animals in the household? Watch closely to see what happens when the other animal comes near the food. Is there any negative reaction? If so, you will need to feed the animals separately at first.

  2. Dog/Other Pet Aggression

    How does the rescue dog react when another pet approaches? Is there growling? Fearfulness? Does the dog run away and hide? If there is any sign of aggression, you need to supervise all time where the dogs are interacting until things settle down. And that doesn't mean a day or a week. When you are not able to supervise them, they need to be kept in separate areas. Use closed doors, gates, kennels, any means necessary.

  3. Fear

    The single hardest behavior to overcome... this comes in many forms. It could be fear of men, fear of women, fear of children, fear of other dogs, fear of loud noises - the list is limitless. Once you observe a particular fear, you have to come up with strategies to overcome it. The best resource I can give you for that is to check out the Dog Whisperer's website, link provided below. Cesar Millan has great advice on helping fearful dogs.

    I'll give you one tip I've learned here. If your new dog is afraid of men (or women), the key is to find the dog's "happy trigger" - the thing that is powerful enough to motivate them. For most dogs, it's treats or food. For some others, it's toys. The person of whom the dog is fearful should be the one doing the feeding, and the one handing out treats. They can toss the treat to the dog from a distance, and the goal is that eventually the dog will approach the person and accept the treat directly from the person. This has helped many people and dogs.

  4. Housetraining Problems

    Expect accidents, plain and simple. Dogs under stress often have housetraining issues, even if they were previously house trained. If the dog experiences fear, he/she may potty as a reaction. If it's a male un-neutered dog, he will set out to mark his territory. If there are other dogs in the house, the problem will be worse because all the male dogs may engage in the activity. All accidents must be cleaned up totally and immediately with a great enzymatic cleaner. Punishing the dog will not help. The dog should be taken outdoors every waking hour and praised for going potty outside. If the dog is kenneled, you must arrange for the dog to be let outside after a reasonable time. It's hard work and despite your best efforts, you may still encounter an occasional problem.

  5. Special Problems Of Puppy Mill Rescues

    These poor dogs come with a whole boatload of issues. They may have never experienced any human interaction and could be afraid of people. They may have never walked on grass or even concrete surfaces before, instead spending their whole life standing on cage bar floors. If you take on this special challenge, be prepared for what could be a lot of work teaching this dog the most basic of real-world skills.

My Experiences -The First 24 Hours With Three Very Different Rescue Dogs

Expect anything, and be surprised by nothing!

Here are three dogs' stories based on my own personal experiences with the first day and night with a new rescue. Every dog is different and your experience will be unique. But by sharing my mistakes, hopefully you might avoid them! Later we'll talk about things you might watch for with a new rescue dog.

Monty - My Most Memorable First-Nighter!

Monty landed me in the Emergency Room! He is a tiny 9 lb. Miniature Schnauzer and the most fearful dog I've ever known. Monty's owners dropped him off and after 12 hours he still refused to come out of his kennel to drink the water I'd placed just outside the open door. Well, being the person who could charm any dog (I thought!) I decided to pick him up. I disassembled the top of the kennel and removed it, and after awhile I picked him up gently. Monty went psycho and went straight for my throat! Off to the ER I went, and I learned a valuable lesson that night. The dog will come out to drink when s/he is darn good and ready. If he/she wants to be left be, let them be! (Later on, two weeks later, Monty walked up to me, jumped up on my lap, and bonded to me like super glue. He still is. But sadly he still wants to bite every female visitor to the house, so he is unadoptable.

Baxter - The Good Ol' Boy

On the far opposite end of the doggie spectrum was Baxter. Bax was brought over to my home as an owner surrender and his loving owner left after a long, painful goodbye. (She was forced into giving up her beloved dog). After several years with his owner, Baxter didn't know what to think. He refused all offers of food, taking only a lap or two of water now and then. He would go outside, do his thing and come back in, then return to his post by the front door where he awaited his owner's return. This is the most common dog behavior I've seen. I always made the owner surrendering a dog let the dog see them go, no matter how painful. The dog has to understand the person is leaving them there. Typically, the dog will wait for about 5-7 days by the front door for the person who left them. Then something clicks in their mind and they realize they must move on. At that point, Baxter joined in the doggie and people families and became one of the gang until he was adopted a few weeks later.

Casey Anne O'Schnauzey

My First Rescue

I picked up eight year old Casey Anne, a purebred Miniature Schnauzer, at a dog shelter in a neighboring town on a blistering July afternoon. She was being housed outdoors and had over 100 ticks feeding from her thin, anemic body, along with a few thousand of their flea friends. First priority was getting Casey out of her insect misery and removing the painful matted hair pulling at her skin. She stood patiently for hours while I removed all the ticks, gave her a de-flea bath and a quick haircut to remove all the matted fur. By that time, Casey and I were both exhausted! She seemed so much happier though. She ate a good dinner, drank lots of water, cheerfully went out to explore the back yard -she was just enjoying being a dog! Finally, tuckered out, she passed out on the dog bed with a stuffed toy and slept blissfully all night long. Casey was a good girl, but I quickly learned that she had very bad eyesight. I also learned that very few people want to adopt an old nearly blind dog. Casey enjoyed her time with me until she crossed over to Rainbow Bridge at age 11.

How To Introduce Your Dog To Your People & Pet Family

Neutral Ground Is Crucial!

If you have other dogs or cats in your home, they have established that territory belongs to them. If you bring a stranger, the rescue dog, into the mix, they will be seeking to establish it as their territory too. At minimum, there could be some growling and circling behaviors. At maximum, there could be a terrible dog fight. That is the main thing you need to avoid to prevent injury to the dogs or to yourself!

If there is any way possible, have another person from your household meet you at another location - like a park. Not a dog park, just a park. You don't want the confusion of other dogs in the mix for this. Keep all dogs on leashes. Allow the dogs to sniff tails and noses, greeting one another in the typical doggie way. Spend some time like this, then switch the leashes. Walk off in separate directions for a few minutes, then come back together again. This way, the dogs know that both people and the new dog will be involved in their lives. If at all possible, everyone should go into the house together. Old dogs first, new dog last - that way the new dog knows his rank immediately.

If you can't go to another location, you can perform this same process in your front yard, preferably a bit away from the house, maybe on the sidewalk or driveway - somewhere your dogs might normally see other dogs.

If The Worst Happens...How To Safely Break Up A Dog Fight

Don't Jump In - STOP!

The worst dog injury I have ever received was the time when my very possessive Miniature Schnauzer, Sue Sue, was lying peacefully under my chair. Whizzer, another Schnauzer rescue, was lying nearby. I had my feet up crocheting and everything was just idyllic until Brookie, a relatively new Scottie mix, decided to walk too close to SueSue, threatening her space. Within seconds SueSue jumped Brookie, Whizzer jumped into the mix, and my legs (which take months to heal anytime I get cut) were in jeopardy. Instinctively shielding my legs, I put my arm down in front of them. Huge mistake!

Brookie was in the middle of going for a bite at SueSue and my arm got in the way. I received a full mouth/full tooth depth bite encircling my left arm. Somehow I caught a claw from Whizzer on the leg. Since I take blood thinners, it became a critical situation in a big hurry. My husband and son were both out of town, I was stuck on the farm without a vehicle, and the only thing that saved me was that my son's girlfriend at the time had stopped by to visit. She corraled the dogs into separate places and helped me get all the bleeding stopped until help arrived.

I've rehashed this over and again trying to figure out what I could have done to prevent the fight in the first place, or to have avoided my injuries. The only thing I gained from that is never to insert any body part between fighting dogs, which I already knew. That being said, I figured out the smartest thing to do would have been to stop, freeze and think before I moved.

S - Stop and freeze!

T - Think about how you should proceed

O - Operate your planned strategy to remove dogs to separate locations

P - Proceed to assess and treat injuries, if any

The safest way to break up a dog fight is to have two people grab each dog from behind just in front of the front legs and walk alowly backward until you have the dog in a safe, segregated location. When you are alone you will need to remove one dog at a time. This is a lot trickier, and you run the risk of being charged by the other dog. If that happens, start over with the other dog.

If A Dogfight Happens...

S - Stop and freeze!

T - Think about how you should proceed

O - Operate your planned strategy to remove dogs to separate locations

P - Proceed to assess and treat injuries, if any

A Word About Grooming Your New Rescue Dog

One word to remember: S - L - O - W. Don't go into grooming with the idea that you will complete it. That may be totally unrealistic. Instead, opt for introducing your dog to the brush by giving him a gentle back scratch with it!

The best dogs in the world, in my opinion, are rescues – they know exactly how lucky they are!

Scheultzie's Story

As I Promised, It's A Happy Ending!

Scheultzie was adopted by a wonderful school teacher named Pat. Scheultzie loves playing with his adopted brother and sister Fritzie and Mimi. He has led a charmed life ever since his adoption! This is the goal we rescuers dream of!

The stars of all the photos in this lens are my rescue furkids!

What Do You Say?

Would You Adopt A Rescue Dog With Known Problems, Physical or Behavioral?

The Most Important Thing

If you adopt a dog and run into insurmountable problems, don't feel bad - you tried! But whatever you do, please contact the rescue you got the dog from and return the dog to them. That way you can avoid tragedies like Harry Schnauzer's story (see link below on my lens list).

I am proud to be donating 25% of the proceeds from this lens to the ASPCA!

Please Bark & Sniff As You Go By! - Kidding, Just Signing Is Fine!

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