Common Problems in Rescue Dogs & Solutions

Common Problems in Rescue Dogs & Solutions

You finally made the big decision to pick up that adorable Goldendoodle rescue for adoption from your local rescue shelter. You have a new family member and cannot wait to bring your furry friend home!

The only problem is that after settling in, your new addition may show some behavior and health issues that previously you had not noticed. It is stressful to have a new pet in the home, and if they have health or behavior issues, this can be a recipe for disaster.

Let us learn about what are some of the most common behavior and health issues that rescued dogs may have.

1. Leash Reactivity

Leash reactivity refers to exactly what the phrase means. It is your dog reacting to the leash you have put them on, especially when out in public and around other dogs.

A rescued dog is not used to being on a leash outside the house, especially in crowded areas. It may react to having a leash around its neck and not in a good way. If a dog is suffering from leash reactivity, then it may even try and nip at other dogs when you go out to do the dog park or for a walk on a sidewalk.

If your dog shows any of the following behaviors, then it may be considered leash reactive:

  • When it is on a leash, it barks at other dogs or cars
  • When you pull on the leash, your dog lunges forward and reacts
  • Your dog turns around and tries to bite or lunge at you when on a leash


It is important to deal with this behavior early on to prevent any untoward incident where your dog might injure you or another canine.

Here are some tips:

  • You can get a special tag for your dog that lets other dog owners know that your dog is leash reactive.
  • Do not let your dog around other dogs or animals while on a leash.
  • Have your dog sit next to you when meeting other people when on a leash and use food to get them preoccupied.

2. Aggressive Behavior

Commonly, rescued dogs may show aggressive or territorial behavior when you have guests who come to visit. This may result in them barking at your guests or even lunging at them. In severe cases, they may even try and bite your guests. Before this happens, you must deal with this before an incident occurs that you will regret.


  • Avoid all situations that may lead to an aggressive incident. If this means putting your dog in another room while guests visit, do that until their behavior has been resolved.
  • Try not to reach over a dog that is afraid.
  • Have guests cooperate when they visit and explain to them that your dog has a behavior problem.
  • Enlist help through a pet behavior specialist.
  • Redirect, or distract your dog from what they are feeling aggressive towards.
  • If your dog is showing aggression towards you, do not turn your back on them or stare them down. Move slowly sideways into another room.
  • Specialized dog training to manage and reduce aggression.

3. Scared of Household Items

Your new rescue dog may not have seen the inside of a home in a long time. They also may not have seen many of the items that we take for granted. These items may be new for them and create a fear that they will overcome with time.

Some items like the washing machine or vacuum cleaner may make noises that will set your dog off and make them scared. It is not unusual to see dogs hiding under tables or beds when you are vacuuming.
If rescue dogs have been punished with these household items, your dog may be scared of them.


You can behavior train your dog not to be afraid of common household items. To do this, you can hire a professional pet behavior specialist, or you can try to do it yourself. If you try and do it yourself, you can use high reward treats to try and coax your dog closer to the object.

Over some time, your dog will feel more comfortable around the object, and you can do this with other items in your house as well.

4. Fleas

Animal shelters do their best to make sure the animals they are sheltering are free from fleas. The problem is that fleas can live on an animal for three months. Fleas are a common problem in most animals that are living in close quarters with many other animals.

Fleas are very tiny insects that are very difficult to see. They can be on your animal,and you might not even know it. They do not have wings, so they cannot fly very far away, but they can hop large distances. Fleas are flat disc-like insects that feed on blood. To see if your animal has fleas, you can inspect their coat and look for signs of itching.


It is a good idea to continue to treat your new rescue for fleas even after you bring it home. You can try a range of treatments, including the following:

  • Chewable tablets
  • Sprays
  • Shampoos
  • Natural treatments like lemongrass and cedarwood oil

5. Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough is a very highly contagious respiratory disease that spreads from dog to dog in those areas where there are a large number of canines housed together. Kennel Cough is anairborne disease and is spread by droplets. Dogs who are usually boarding together spread it to one another.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough include the following:

  • A honking cough that is very strong
  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Having a low fever

If your dog is coughing, it is important to have it checked out by your veterinarian. Because even though it may not be Kennel Cough, it may be another ailment that would require medical treatment.


It is important to treat Kennel Cough sooner rather than later. Letting it linger can result in your dog developing a serious health condition.

The following steps should be taken to treat it:

  • Antibiotics – This is given to your dog by a Veterinarian. Please do not self-medicate your dog.
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers can be used but are not usually prescribed.
  • Using a harness instead of a rather than a collar might be more comfortable for your dog

Common Behavior and Health Issues in Rescue Dogs

Although the settling-in period can result in some behavior and health issues, with time, your rescue dog will fit right in. As a new dog owner, you need to be vigilant in the beginning to make sure that any issues that arise are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

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