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Understanding Your Troubled Rescue

Blakley is the proud caretaker of two rescues themself, and they just want to help make life easier for any family adopting a new pet!

What are rescues in the first place?

Rescue; noun: "denoting or relating to a domestic animal that has been removed from a situation of abuse or neglect by a welfare organization."


A rescue animal is one which has come from an unsafe home, the majority of the time being a dangerous or hostile situation, and are in need of a safe and loving family. These animals have been through a lot to say the least, and often come with emotional issues from trauma and neglect. This isn't to say that they do not deserve a chance though, because with a loving and supportive environment, they can be wonderful additions to any household!


How do I know if my rescue needs support?

When first adopting a rescue, it may be hard to tell if they have emotional issues that need to be addressed. Especially when going to a shelter, you don't always know about their previous home and what it may have been like for them. Then even if you're lucky enough to do a direct adoption from a foster family, the foster agency isn't always the most reliable for having qualified candidates. For example, when I adopted my younger dog, we didn't even know the foster parent had abusive tendencies until we talked with them. This was quite the nerve raking experience, as I expect it would be for anyone else, so now this article is in place to help another person who may be going through a similar experience.

If you are still unsure, though, there are many different signs to look for. These include symptoms like:

  • Avoiding areas or hiding
  • Unusual urination behavior
  • Barking or whining
  • Shaking
  • Fear of being alone
  • Abnormal aggressive behavior

If your furry friend is showing all or even a few of these signs, it might be worth looking into treatment options to help them feel their best.

Still unsure? Take this quiz!

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. Is your dog a rescue from an abusive home?
    • No, they're not
    • Yes a rescue, but i'm not sure about their previous home(s)
    • Yes to both of these
  2. Does your dog avoid specific situations or areas?
    • No, they don't
    • Yes, they do
  3. Does your dog often present with (supposed) nightmares?
    • No, they don't
    • I believe so
  4. Is your dog aggressive? Is it only towards a specific groups of people? (ex: a particular gender?)
    • No, they're not
    • Aggressive, but generally to everyone
    • Aggressive to only certain groups of people
  5. Does your dog often show signs of fear in specific situations?
    • No, they don't
    • Yes, but they are fearful of everything
    • Yes, they can be outgoing and playful but scare in specific circumstances
  6. How is your furry friend with being alone?
    • They are just fine, they like their space.
    • They don't necessarily enjoy it, but they seem to be fine
    • They are afraid of being alone, and pitch a fit when i leave.

Scoring

Use the scoring guide below to add up your total points based on your answers.

  1. Is your dog a rescue from an abusive home?
    • No, they're not: +0 points
    • Yes a rescue, but i'm not sure about their previous home(s): +2 points
    • Yes to both of these: +5 points
  2. Does your dog avoid specific situations or areas?
    • No, they don't: +0 points
    • Yes, they do: +3 points
  3. Does your dog often present with (supposed) nightmares?
    • No, they don't: +0 points
    • I believe so: +3 points
  4. Is your dog aggressive? Is it only towards a specific groups of people? (ex: a particular gender?)
    • No, they're not: +0 points
    • Aggressive, but generally to everyone: +3 points
    • Aggressive to only certain groups of people: +5 points
  5. Does your dog often show signs of fear in specific situations?
    • No, they don't: -2 points
    • Yes, but they are fearful of everything: +2 points
    • Yes, they can be outgoing and playful but scare in specific circumstances: +4 points
  6. How is your furry friend with being alone?
    • They are just fine, they like their space.: -1 point
    • They don't necessarily enjoy it, but they seem to be fine: +1 point
    • They are afraid of being alone, and pitch a fit when i leave.: +3 points

Interpreting Your Score

A score between -3 and 4 means: Your dog may be a rescue, but they seem to not carry much emotional trauma from their previous home.

A score between 5 and 12 means: Your dog may carry a little bit of emotional stress, but it is completely possible that they might just be a fearful dog.

A score between 13 and 17 means: From the answers you gave, it is possible your dog might be showing signs of significant emotional stress. It might be worth looking into ways you can help your dog feel their best!

A score between 18 and 20 means: It is apparent that your dog is showing many signs of emotional distress, it would probably be worth your while to look into options to support your firry friend.

A score between 21 and 23 means: It seems that your dog is showing significant signs of emotional stress or possibly canine PTSD, it could be a potentially good thing to get your local vet involved in supporting your pup!

What treatment options are there for canine stress?

This may be hard to believe, but renowned veterinarians have actually come up with many different options to help struggling rescue pets. In severe cases where a veterinarian needs to be involved to treat PTSD, they may present to you things like medication and retraining for your dog. In less severe circumstances, though, there are many things that could help. These include:

  • Providing the dog their own safe space (i.e. a room or crate)
  • Anxiety blankets
  • Special CBD infused products made for animals
  • Creating a dependable routine

Keep in mind what your dog needs depends on them personally, so what may work for some may not work for your pet in particular. I hope you found this article both informational and helpful, good luck with the new addition to your loving family!

Works Cited

  • Dodman, N. (2016, October 25). Canine PTSD. Psychology Today. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dog-days/201610/canine-ptsd
  • SitStay. (2018, August 8). PTSD in dogs. SitStay. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://sitstay.com/blogs/good-dog-blog/ptsd-in-dogs


  • Vet, J. (2020, December 21). How to help dogs suffering from PTSD. ALL ANIMAL CARE CLINIC - JUPITER VET. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from http://www.jupitervet.com/how-to-help-dogs-suffering-from-ptsd/



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