The history of many rescue dogs is unknown and therefore we do not have the benefit of being able to ask questions about how well socialised a dog has been in the past or how much environmental exposure it has been given.
Rescue centres will try to provide as much information as possible about a dog’s past and will assess the dog’s temperament as far as they can to help potential owners. Some will ensure that they can cope with everyday noises and will test their reactions to other dogs, other animals and people, including children. There will however be the ‘unknown’ factor, as it is unlikely that a full history of each dog can be given.
This should not deter you from choosing a rescue dog but you should ensure that you are able to give plenty of time and patience to the dog you choose and must understand that whilst many problems your rescue dog may arrive with can be resolved or modified, some may always remain.
Many of the problems that rescue dogs have are related to a lack of socialisation or social referencing at the correct times. If a dog did not have adequate opportunities for meeting other dogs when it was younger or has had bad experiences with other dogs, then it may be fearful or aggressive with other dogs.
These behaviours can often be modified and sometimes completely resolved with the help of an experienced trainer or behaviourist but once the dog has passed a certain age, you can never fully make up for early socialisation.
The same applies to dogs that are fearful in certain situations or of certain noises. Gradual exposure to the noise or situation which the dog is fearful of may reduce the reaction to it over time, but many dogs will never fully regain their confidence in all situations.