Can a rescue dog be trained?

Having volunteered at The Mayhew Animal Home for over 4 years I have seen all sorts of dogs come through their doors; Dogs that were abandoned, mistreated or simply no longer wanted. Some of these dogs have never had any form of training – not even knowing the basic commands of sit and stay. So is it possible to train a dog thats had months or years to develop bad habits?

Step in Wallace…

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Wallace was brought to The Mayhew at eight months old due to his owners ill health. Wallace had all the energy you would expect from a young German Shephard – he was exuberant and sometimes a little full on but was eager to please. He needed someone that had the time and experience of his breed to explore his potential. Step in Robert – an ex police dog handler. Wallace was in for a treat.

I met up with them both last week to see how Wallace was getting on (a normal part of the post adoption process). To say I was impressed is an understatement. We stood in a field whilst Robert showed me some of Wallace’s repertoire – including search and rescue of items that Robert had left in the field the previous evening (one of which was half way up a tree), heel work, recall and scent trails. Wallace aced all of it.

Wallace has been with Robert a mere 6 months and clearly adores him although I think the feeling is mutual.

Wallace is set to become a security patrol dog as he is getting ready for some very thorough and challenging tests which he will surely breeze through. He is taking these tests far earlier than Robert predicted he would and goes so far as to say Wallace is one of the brightest dogs he has ever trained.

Yes Robert has the skills to teach Wallace above and beyond what most owners usually do (myself included) however the fact remains that rescue dogs are just as trainable and eager to please as any dog you buy from a breeder. It may in some cases, take a little more time and patience but boy is it worth it!

Please note that in this video (which is a little far away as I didn’t want to interrupt) Wallace is NOT on a lead and didn’t need any treats or bribes – just a ball at the end.

For more information on the Mayhew Animal Home and dogs waiting for adoption click here

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