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SPCA Revolutionizes Rehabilitation of Traumatized Dogs

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Yuliss has worked with sheltered dogs, training them to be adoptable to good homes. She has had her own dogs and now has 4 human children!

Rescue Dogs Given a Second Chance at Life

Rescue Dogs Given a Second Chance at Life

2 Year American Research Study Helps Traumatized Dogs Recover

The American SPCA has revolutionized the rehabilitation of traumatized dogs. What is unique about this new approach is that the dogs are given a strict program and strict socialization and training for 3 months - consistently. That is 3 months in a consistent environment, with familiar professional trainers, handlers and veterinarians on hand.

The professionals work with the dogs everyday. The dogs get regular care, food, water and outside time. Everyday. In a few weeks the dog’s start to transform. They lose their fear of people, they gain social skills, they are re-integrated and ready to be a domesticated dog. They are eligible for adoption into family homes.

How Have Programs Been Different In The Past?

In the past, both American and Canadian SPCA had a more casual set up. I used to volunteer in a Canadian SPCA. You trained the dogs on basic obedience. You made sure their kennel was clean and you could walk them. But you weren’t designated to a specific dog. You worked with a different dog each time you came. The dogs were fed and watered and generally cared for, but not purposefully rehabilitated. However, in the end, most of the dogs were adopted. A few were transferred to another SPCA location to attract different families.



Why Rehabilitation Makes 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Many of these dogs can be very fearful and withdrawn.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 touch, to their ears, paws and tail, gets them used to the way humans show affection.

Please remember these dogs have had a rough start. No human contact, dirty and cramped living space. And no regular routine for walks and food. No toys. Can you imagine a dog or puppy not knowing how to play with a squeaky toy?!



Successful Adoption of a Rescue Dog to a Family Home

Successful Adoption of a Rescue Dog to a Family Home

Why Intense Rehabilitation Should Be Effective?

The new 3 month dog rehabilitation program initiated in the States, combines specific tests and learning-through-play to debrief. Each dog is on a daily program and evaluated by consistent trainers. As strengths and challenges present themselves the team is able to further tailor the training to benefit the dog’s development.


It is really most rewarding to see the dogs learn from other dogs! As the dogs and puppies are housed in a consistent caring environment at this institution, they start to observe other dog’s behaviors and gain the confidence to “come out of their shell” and be a dog!


Also, to see dogs and puppies learn to play with colorful commercialized toys and enjoy themselves with people and other dogs, is really a turning point for these dogs in terms of their ability to succeed in the program.



What Is The Next Step For These Dogs?

After graduation from this program the dogs will be eligible for adoption to family homes. The hope is that the new intense program will improve rates of adoption of the rescue dogs as well as improve overall temperament of rescue dogs for long-term sustainability. Therefore both a rescue dog and the new family can be a great fit for life! The new program is a 2 year trial, in the States only, for now.


The staff of professionals report that they expect most dogs to graduate, but they do expect that there will be some that do not. The ones that can not overcome their fear-based aggression and anxiety even with several program modifications will likely be euthanized, but these are the most extreme cases. The staff remain hopeful that this program in general will greatly reduce the rate of euthanasia of rescue dogs overall for multiple reasons.



Rescued Traumatized Dogs Get a Second Chance With Rehabilitation

In Summary

This article discusses a new program for dog rehabilitation initiated in the States only for now. What makes this research trail for changing dog behaviour so revolutionary is that a team of professionals are working consistently for 3 months with severely traumatized dogs that were rescued from appalling 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.


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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Yuliss

Have You Adopted a Rescue Dog? Tell Us About How Your Dog Fits With Your Family!

Yuliss (author) on December 29, 2020:

Hi Al Katraz. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I can’t speak for the ASPCA funding, it is run strictly as a not-for-profit charity in Canada, therefore does not have the resources or the funding as does the States. I see your point regarding the future outcomes though. Time will tell what the project becomes. Although there are some trends that may be worth noting.

Since the pandemic pet adoptions have sky-rocketed, and are now levelling off. But people realized they do better with animal companions during lonely times.

Another trend we are seeing are couples feeling their family is complete with dogs, usually more than one and sometimes, dogs take the place of children for couples in today’s world. Children are too costly, too much commitment and too much responsibility for some.

This generation also prefers to adopt a dog rather than purchase a dog through a breeder. 20 years ago it was trendy to have a high-end dog bred for appearance, health and genetic qualities. Now that has shifted and this generation is looking to fulfil a greater need. Adopt and raise a mix-breed or Mutt. They love the uniqueness of a rescue dog and embrace the challenges that come with adopting a dog that perhaps had an unfavourable start.

With these trends continuing into the forciable future, I can only be hopeful that more dogs will have more luck getting a forever home.