Want to Rescue a Dog?
-Try These Tests First
You're about to rescue a dog. But how do you know what signs to look for in a rescue dog to help decide if he or she will be suitable?
You probably want to rescue a dog - whether it's a Schnauzer, other purebred, crossbreed or mongrel - to give that dog a better life.
But the rescue dog will only have a better, happy life if he fits in with you, your family and and your lifestyle. An aggressive, dominant dog, for example, would not be suitable for a family with small children.
Similarly, a nervous, submissive rescue dog will not be happy if he arrives at your home to find another boisterous dog or aggressive cat already there.
Before you take the plunge and rescue a dog, take the time to read the following tests devised for rescue dogs by dog training and counselling experts Jack and Wendy Volhard.
Wendy and Jack have built an international reputation over 35 years for their expertise with canines. The rigorous
Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test
has become the accepted method for comprehensively testing puppies to determine their temperament and character.
Here's what the Volhards have to say about rescue dogs -
"Don’t overlook an Animal Shelter as a source for a good dog. Not all dogs wind up in a shelter because they are bad.
After that cute puppy stage when the dog grows up, he may become too much for his owner. Or there has been a change in the owner’s circumstances forcing him or her into having to give up the dog.
Most of the time these dogs are housetrained and already have some training. If the rescue dog has been properly socialized with people, it will be able to adapt to a new environment. Bonding may take a little longer, but once accomplished it will result in a devoted companion.
While you can’t use the entire Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, there are some tests that will give you a good indication of what to look for before you rescue a dog –
- Restraint - try putting the rescue dog into a down position with some food, and then gently rolling him over and see what happens.
If the dog jumps up and runs away or tries to bite you, this is not the dog for you. Rather look for a dog that turns over readily, but squirms around a bit.
Apply just enough pressure to keep the dog on its back; ease up if he struggles too much. Intermittent squirming is OK, constant squirming is not OK.
- Social Dominance - directly after the Restraint Test, if the dog didn't struggle too much and if you think it’s safe, try sitting the dog and just stroking him.
Get your face relatively close to him while talking to him softly to see if he licks you and forgives you for the upside down experience. A dog that wants to get away from you is not a good candidate.
- Retrieving - crumple up a small piece of paper and show it to the dog. Have him on your left side with your arm around him and throw the paper with your right hand about six feet, encouraging the dog to get it and bring it back. You are looking for a dog that brings the paper back to you.
Guide dog trainers have the greatest faith in this test. A dog that retrieves nearly always works out to be a Guide Dog because it indicates a willingness to work for the owner.
Other organizations that use dogs from a shelter - such as those who use dogs to sniff out contraband or drugs and police departments - place almost sole reliance on this test.
They know that if a dog brings back the object, they can train him to do almost anything.
If you do rescue a dog, use the tests that you can do and act accordingly.
By the way, it’s not too late to use some of the tests with the dog you already have. It just might explain some of your dog’s behaviors.
THE LEAST YOU NEED TO KNOW
There are many breeds to choose from and if there is a secret in getting that “perfect puppy”, it is doing your homework.
A good place to start is “The Complete Dog Book” by the American Kennel Club, which describes in detail the different breeds recognized by that registry.
Carefully consider the time you have available for the necessary up-keep and exercise the dog requires. Don’t get a dog on impulse!
Use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test in selecting your dog, whether a puppy or an older dog."
You can read more about Jack and Wendy Volhard and their techniques on
If you are about to rescue a dog, here are some other pages on this website about dog rescue groups and tips -
Read this Before you Rescue a Dog
US Schnauzer Rescue Organizations
UK Schnauzer Rescue Organisations
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