Caring For A Rescued Hoarded Dog: The #1 Thing You Can Do To Help


If you adopted a rescued hoarded dog, chances are he will need some rehabilitation. Here are the top five rehabilitation tips you can put into practice immediately. Let’s countdown backward from tip number 5.

Rehabilitation Tip 5 – Maintain Regular Routines

Maintaining regular routines helps dogs to feel safe in a new forever home or foster home.

Tip number 5 is, maintain regular routines.

Remember, we are starting backward in our rehabilitation tip countdown. With that in mind, know that following steps 1-4 is imperative to help your previously hoarded dog thrive in his or her forever home.

Routine, routine, routine, cannot be emphasized enough. Setting an hourly, daily, and weekly pattern is key to the successful rehabilitation of your dog. By creating a predictable environment for your dog, you help him or her move closer to the goal of thriving in your forever home.

Establish a daily pattern of when he eats, and keep to the pattern. Consider holding him within ten minutes of getting home, then do it every day. By holding your dog on a consistent basis, you reinforce your home as a safe place. 

Repetition with our pups is a great tool.

Here is our morning routine. We get up around 6:00 am. Let the dogs outside for about five minutes to relieve themselves. We bring them back in (Incidentally I don’t call them, I snap my fingers, and they come every time). Immediately upon coming back in, I give each of them a rawhide chew stick. They established their own pecking order and line up accordingly.

Once the chewies are gone, I let them out for the second time. This may last five to ten minutes depending on the weather. Once again, I open the door, they come back inside, and I give them a teenie tiny beef snack. They sit in a line, I say their names one at a time and offer the snack squeezed tightly in my fingers (This technique helps to curb any overly aggressive biting or gulping action as they take the snack). 

As I said, routine, routine, routine works every time.

Tip 4 – Provide Behavioral Training


Tip number 4 in our countdown is, provide behavioral training.

You may think of obedience training as number one in the genre of training, but there are many areas to consider. For instance, you have positive reinforcement training. This training establishes a strong emphasis on your dog doing the right or good things and not reacting excessively negative to bad behavior. 

Agility training for dogs allows their puppy side to have fun while guiding them into following directions. You also have beginner, mid-level and advanced obedience training as options. Be aware of your dog’s willingness to participate. Never force him into performing for you. You’ll know he loves what he does by his demeanor, happy dog, happy home!

Tip 3 – Tender Loving Care’s_Love.jpg

Tip number 3 is, show some tender loving care.

Your dog desperately wants to love you. He may not know how because, he comes from an overcrowded and anti-social environment. Though hoarded dogs roam freely, it is possible they do it without human touch or one-on-one human time. It’s hard to imagine a dog not being loved, but your boy may be the one who wasn’t. 

Love consistently. Praise good behavior show some grace when he is not doing his best. Remember he is not human, he is a dog in the rawest form. A hoarded pack has little to no leadership because of the poor environment and lack of food. He needs to trust you to thrive. Therefore love, love, love to the best of your ability.

Caring is the practical side of welcoming a hoarded dog into your home. Provide for his needs; think about comfort and community. Be sure he has a place to lay his head, a toy to play with, and food bowls to call his own 

Tip 2 – More Than One Dog

Two dogs can be better than one

Tip number 2 is, have an older dog already in place, or adopt more than one dog.

We adopted Mimi to be the next-in-line playmate of our youngest dog, Blue. Sandy, our 12-year-old rescue was on his last leg, and we knew Blue would be lonely. The call came that three of Mimi’s siblings were back on the avail list. We chose, DJ and the three of them are doing amazingly well, three years later.

Hoarded dogs are familiar with a pack environment, not as a lone pup. The closer you can mimic where they came from, in a healthier fashion, the better. Previously adopted dogs can be the calm role model your new addition desperately needs. Your previously hoarded dog will learn where and when to urinate with someone leading the way. Walking on different flooring or crossing room thresholds becomes easier when they see another dog doing it. 

Group walks, doggie parks, and other social interaction are better received with another calmer dog present. 

Rehabilitation Tip 1 – Patience!

Rescue dogs
Relaxing with your dog is great

The number 1 tip is, be patient with your previously hoarded dog. 

Just like humans, dogs love praise and react negatively to anger. Therefore, by practicing patience with our newly adopted pet, we take care of both needs. Taking time with your dog allows her to settle into her new environment without stress. Plan sections of your day just to get acquainted with floor time, couch time and outdoor time. No agenda per say just moments here and moments there. 

Patience replaces pressure when you lower expectations. If you expect your dog to come, sit, heal, and lay down within the first week, it’s pressure. On the other hand, praising her when she comes to you on her own, encourages her to do it more often. As an added touch, gently say, “Good girl” or “Come” immediately after the fact and offer a treat. Word association will grab on at her pace. 

Relax, rest, and rely on your dog making some of the first moves. She will as she becomes more familiar with you and your family and feels safe in her new forever home.

Check out these suggestions if you are thinking about adopting more than one dog.

Be sure to read part 1 of this series, How to Care for Rescued Hoarded Dogs-Health and Behavior Issues.

I finish this series next time, by looking at the lifetime obstacles many previously hoarded dogs face. Share your thoughts and comments below.