Rehoming a Street Dog
There is a street dog crisis in Eastern Europe and it has been more acknowledged since the war in ukraine. Many people are out trying to help at shelters and protect such dogs but they also need forever homes! If anyone is thinking about rehoming street dogs from Eastern Europe, that’s absolutely amazing! I have a street dog rescue myself and he’s absolutely my best friend. Here is some useful information to help welcome your dog into the home (a place they may never have been before) if anyone has any questions or would like continuous support with the process, you can get in touch via my website or drop me an email/message on social media.
1. Don't focus on training right away. Before training can happen, the dog needs to trust you, be eating properly, sleeping through the night and experiencing their new environment. This is much more important when they first arrive then making sure they don't pull on a lead. Without these things in place, you won't get very far in training at all. Eating, Sleeping, Sniffing and comfort are top priority!!
2. It can take a lot longer than you may think for a foreign rescue to fully adapt to their new environment. They are disoriented, confused and scared when they first arrive and need space and time to figure everything out and to understand that their new home is safe. Prior to coming to you, they've always lived in a state of flight or fight so they will take time to relax and realise that they are in a safe environment.
3. The Cohabitation stage. This is SO important and a very weird stage in development and relationship. There will be a period of time in which you and your new dog live but don't quite bond. In this stage, your dog now feels more confident and comfortable with where they are and therefore feel more confident, you will start to see some character development from them also. Maybe they've found their voice and bark some more or start to play with toys or you a bit more. They're gaining confidence.
Different to puppies from breeders, street dogs have been completely independent and not attached to humans. They may not be reliant on you yet. This can also be a time where they may raid your bin for food or "misbehave" but this is simply them figuring out their character and developing in their new home. Please don't punish these behaviours or try to correct them, they are still learning and using punishment can cause mistrust for your dog and slow down you bonding with your dog.
4. Figuring each other out. Street dogs have learned on their own what is scary and sometimes this can be traffic, people, other dogs, etc. Observe their behaviour and try to see areas of anxiety. Sometimes you will notice this later on as your dog gains the confidence to present their anxiety. It sounds strange but anxiety problems can sometimes emerge later on once the dog gains confidence to express this fear. Due to stress of moving country and not knowing what's going on, a dog can be in a state of "learned helplessness" until their confidence builds and they trust you more. Learned Helplessness is a state of freeze where they don't react at all too scary stimuluses because they are in shut down and can't do anything. Once they gain confidence in you, this is when they will communicate fear (either by trying to run away from scary thing or react to scary thing)
Give them a good routine so they're able to figure you out also. Predictability can help a dog build confidence and reduce anxiety. Observe and notice any areas of fear, anxiety or reactivity so you can chat to a trainer about it.
5. Finally... training!! Every dog is different so training can vary in what the dogs need. For training session or advice, get in touch. We can discuss your dogs anxieties and behaviours and get a training plan together to help.