However, rescue animals can bring baggage, so it is important that you practice this essential AWDT rule: Direction before affection.
It’s very likely that your new dog doesn’t have the social experience to survive in the world. In the worst cases, the experience they do have is probably bad experience that is going to make your job even harder. And if your dog doesn’t feel safe, your odds of aggression or anxious behavior increases immensely.
To make your new dog feel safe follow these simple instructions:
1) Direction before affection – The less your dog has to think, the better. The more you define your expectations at home, at work, on the walk, the less your dog has to cope with the world at first. As their confidence grows and as your bond grows, we can give them more freedom to think for themselves and explore the world. Until then, allow them to find solace in your routine.
2) Control your space / give them their space – If dogs are uncomfortable with people, the last thing you want to do is have all your friends and family come visit your new dog. This is especially important if your guests tend to speak in baby voices to your new dog or approach and touch your dog excessively. If you’re going to have people come over, have your friends ignore the dog and let your dog acclimate to the people around you. If your dog has a behavior problem you are working on, then be even more specific by having them on a leash next to you or in a place where he can not make a mistake.
Conversely, don’t let the dog jump all over you and your furniture. You want to be the one giving the direction, not him. The more he gets used to you keeping him safe and telling him what to do, the better.
3) Get help before you bring the dog home – Most people wait until problems pop up to contact a trainer. If you are going to take a dog that has known behavioral issues, contact a trainer or behaviorist beforehand to help you make the perfect first impression with your dog. Sometimes you can avoid a lifetime of problem behaviors by starting off on the right foot. If you lose your dog’s trust right away, your rehabilitation work is going to be much harder.
4) Play "hard to get" – Your affection will be worth more if you withhold it a little bit. Thinking in these terms also helps control the human instinct to coddle dogs as if they were infant humans. This ultimately makes the dog feel safer and makes your rewards more valuable.