2-year American research study helps traumatized dogs heal
The American SPCA has revolutionized the rehabilitation of traumatized dogs. The unique thing about this new approach is that the dogs receive a strict schedule and strict socialization and training for 3 months, on a consistent basis. That’s 3 months in a consistent environment, with professional trainers, handlers, and family vets available.
Professionals work with dogs every day. Dogs receive regular care, food, water, and time outdoors. Every day. In a few weeks, the dog begins to transform. They lose their fear of people, gain social skills, reintegrate, and are ready to be a domesticated dog. They are eligible to be adopted into family homes.
How have programs been different in the past?
In the past, both the US and Canadian SPCA had a more informal configuration. I used to volunteer at a Canadian SPCA. He trained the dogs in basic obedience. You made sure their kennel was clean and that you could accompany them. But you weren’t designated for a specific dog. You worked with a different dog each time you came. The dogs were fed, fed and generally cared for, but not purposely rehabilitated. However, in the end, most of the dogs were adopted. Some were moved to another SPCA location to attract different families.
Why does rehabilitation make a difference?
Many of these dogs can be very fearful and withdrawn. If forced, they will act aggressively and may even attack or bite to be left alone. Providing consistency and rehabilitating them to human contact, to their ears, legs and tail, accustoms them to the way humans show affection.
Remember these dogs are off to a rocky start. No human contact, dirty and cramped living space. And there is no regular routine for walking and eating. No toys. Can you imagine a dog or puppy without knowing how to play with a squeaky toy?
Why should intense rehabilitation be effective?
The new 3-month dog rehabilitation program started in the States, combines targeted testing and learning through play to inform. Each dog is on a daily schedule and is evaluated by constant trainers. As strengths and challenges arise, the team can further tailor the training to benefit the dog’s development.
It is really very rewarding to see dogs learn from other dogs! As the dogs and puppies are housed in a constant care environment at this institution, they begin to observe the behaviors of other dogs and gain the confidence to “come out of their shell” and be a dog.
Also, watching dogs and puppies learn to play with colorful marketed toys and have fun with people and other dogs is really a turning point for these dogs in terms of their ability to be successful in the show.
What is the next step for these dogs?
After graduating from this program, dogs will be eligible to be adopted into family homes. The hope is that the intense new program will improve adoption rates for rescue dogs and improve the overall temperament of rescue dogs for long-term sustainability. Therefore, both a rescue dog and the new family can be a perfect fit in life. The new program is a 2-year trial, in the States only, for now.
The professional staff reports that they expect most dogs to graduate, but they hope there are a few that will not. Those who cannot overcome their fear-based aggression and anxiety, even with various program modifications, will likely be euthanized, but these are the most extreme cases. The staff is hopeful that this overall program will greatly reduce the rate of euthanasia of rescue dogs overall for multiple reasons.
This article looks at a new program for dog rehabilitation started in the States just for now. What makes this research path to change dog behavior so revolutionary is that a team of professionals is constantly working for 3 months with severely traumatized dogs that were rescued from dire conditions. Many of these dogs are withdrawn or have fear-based anxiety and depression and require positive behavioral therapy just to get used to people, other dogs, learn to play, and learn to enjoy squeaky toys.
To watch the Second Chance video for more details on this research and to meet the staff of professionals who help these dogs, visit my site.
Have you adopted a rescue dog? Tell us how your dog fits into your family!