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Common Issues That Rescue Dogs Have

Everyone knows that rescue dogs can have their fair share of problems. In fact, they don’t have the best reputation, and unfortunately for this reason many people are put off getting a rescue dog. Not all rescue dogs have horrendous issues. Yes, some of them come with baggage, but there are plenty of perfectly behaved rescue dogs out there too.

When you look for a rescue dog, you can find a dog that meets your exact needs. The rescue centre should tell you if they have any issues, and you can decide if they are the kind of issues you can live with. Here are some of the common issues that rescue dogs have (it’s also important to note that all dogs can have these problems, not just rescue dogs).

Fear of people

As many rescue dogs have been abused and had a terrible start to their lives, they often mistrust humans. Who can blame them when all they know is cruelty and mistreatment? For some rescue dogs, they may have been put through so much that their fear sadly turns to aggression. However, it’s amazing how some dogs can learn to trust people again. They might have been treated awful, yet they meet a new human who is kind and see that not all humans are mean.

Extremely nervous

Some rescue dogs can also be very nervous and scared. They might be terrified of the outside world and get spooked by simple things like cars, bikes and loud noises. There are some cases where dogs are locked up in cages or a dark room, so they don’t really know what the outside world is all about. They need a special owner to come and show them the ropes, and gradually encourage them to come out of their shell.

Aggression towards other dogs

A lot of rescue dogs are poorly socialised. They may not have had much interaction with other dogs or been allowed to play with their canine companions. This means they have to learn doggy social skills at an older age, with the help of a dog trainer. They also need a patient owner who will work on their socialisation by teaching them how to interact nicely with other dogs.

Again, some rescue dogs may never get along with other dogs and might have to be kept apart from them or wear a muzzle when on walks. However, a lot of dogs can be successfully rehabilitated given the right training.

No recall

Some rescue dogs will have absolutely no recall. However, this is definitely something you can work on over time. They just need to build a bond with you and undertake some recall training. They may have previously been allowed to roam free and do what they want, and have no idea that they are expected to return to their owners on command. Some breeds struggle with recall more than others, and often have to be kept on a lead (for example, Siberian Huskies). For some owners that isn't such a problem as they can find other ways to exercise and stimulate their dog.

Complete lack of training

A small minority of rescue dogs have had absolutely no training. Either their previous owners haven’t bothered to teach them how to behave properly or they just haven’t had owners at all. It doesn’t take too long to teach a smart dog some basic training. You can have them doing a sit and a paw in no time, as long as you have some tasty treats of course.

Separation anxiety

There are some dogs who adore being around humans so much that they just can’t cope on their own. They may have never been left on their own and always had people around them, so they don’t understand what’s going on when someone leaves them unattended. These type of dogs do need a special home, where someone is around most of the time. They can then be gradually taught to be left on their own.


Unfortunately some rescue dogs are destructive. They might chew and scratch things when they are bored, left unattended or stressed. Again, this behaviour can be managed by the right owner with the help of a canine behaviourist. If they don’t get too stressed, they can be created and left for short periods so that they are unable to do much damage. Some people just won’t allow a destructive dog into their home, but there are a select few dog owners that will take the time to work on this problem.


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