NYC dog rescue

An example of why and how of structure and freedom with a dog

I've noticed something with a recent client and their dog. Not only was the dog hyper and unruly, he also did not like it when you told him what to do.

For instance, if the dog jumped on me biting my hand and I told him “no” he would jump even more ferociously. He would have his calm moments after a while but for the most part this was his normal behavior.

Now I am a firm believer in punishing biting by the dog. Some are against this and say that the dog will grow out of it. Some dogs do while others don't. I am not in the business of leaving things to chance.

So that is what I did first. I punished the biting at a correction suitable enough to make the dog not want to bite but not enough to cause the dog pain. It is a tricky balance.

The next thing I did was get the dog to stop taking advantage of the owner, who was a sweet woman. She didn't realize that she was giving the dog way too much freedom. He was allowed access to the whole house and whole yard. One thing always sticks out to me is that dogs with too much freedom can never sit still. They are like kids with adhd. These dogs need duration exercises to teach the dog how to calm down and relax in one place. I had the owner and her family sit still and not engage with the dog. The dog looked lost. He had to be in the grass sniffing, in the garbage sniffing, bothering the owner by biting on her shoes, etc. This dog needed something to do and told what to do. The best way to control is to keep a leash on the dog even in the house. Now it is time to give the dog something to do.

When we are in the house I want the dog to lay quietly on their bed. I will usually put the bed next to the couch where the owners watch tv. This makes it easier and no big deal or effort considering the owner is not doing anything they wouldn't do anyways(watching tv). The dog at first kept trying to get up. This is why the leash is handy. You can keep watching tv and feel if the dog is moving away from their bed by holding the leash.

Structure and limited freedom is the key to get your dog to listen to you without doing obedience.

The above example shows one way to live with your dog in the house. By keeping your dog on its bed for a duration of time, they learn to relax in place.

Another way to add limited freedom is to cut off certain areas to your dog. Areas that are off limits might include the living room, the bathroom, a special room. How do I stop the dogs from entering these areas?

I put up little baby gates that you can get from target the store. If you don't put anything across the doorway and rely on your voice then you'll be screaming a lot of “get out” to the dog. Also the dog is faster than you, so they will be in the room before you can get a word in. If you put up a baby gate the dog will respect the barrier and eventually stop without the barrier there.

A structured walk is also important. On a structured walk the dog is not allowed to sniff, pull, or stare at any dog or person intently. The dog can sniff the ground only when I give the okay command.

It is important that you realize that you don't need obedience if you just want to live peacefully with your dog. Rules and respect make a relationship thrive in the dog world.

The day I fell in love with a senior dog in a rescue group

Today I woke up and did my morning meditation, stretches, and grounding exercises to get me focus for the day. I wrote in my journal and sent myself some positive information. After getting dressed I headed to a rescue group where I volunteer.

As hot as it was today I knew I was not going to be outside for long. I entered in the rescue, signed in and went immediately to the dog run. As I walked up and down the aisle full of energetic dogs eager to come out and play or attack me, I noticed a dutch shepherd who looked very focused. I love the look of a focused dog.

The first thing I noticed was that he was 7 years old and was a black dog. I thought to myself that this dog is old and I should probably check if he has any medical issues. Once he was cleared I took him to play in the yard. We played fetch with a ball and ran around the yard. He knew the command sit so I asked him to sit each time.

He doesn't really know any other commands, but I see the potential this dog possesses.We will work on that. He would stare at me as if asking what to do next. I thought he would soon run out of energy being that he was older, but quite the opposite happened. We walked and he was full of life. He was my partner for the day. I was excited and it gave me a rush of energy.

We found some shade and sat down and relaxed as if we had just finished working a construction job and was on lunch break. I was always one to say I'd rather a young dog than an old dog, but I'm not so sure that's the case all the time.

Of course a young dog is usually more energetic, but not all the time. It also depends whose adopting the dog. They might not want a dog that's energetic. The older dogs usually have more health problems. They usually have behavioral problems if they are in these situations. They have a shorter life span left.

And with all this in mind, I am now rooting for the underdog. These dogs are a victim of circumstance. They can be great dogs with a dedicated owner.

The crazy thing I find about people that want puppies is that most of the time these are the dogs who later end up being that old dog in a rescue group or shelter. A puppy is a blank slate, but it is also a lot more work. If you mess up you can only blame yourself. 

I don't want to discourage anyone. I'm just saying if you aren't into any dog sports where you need a young healthy dog that you can train then consider an older rescue dog. They are not all the same. Just like humans have diversity, so do dogs. I left the rescue group feeling like I had made a new friend. I just hope I impacted his life as much as he impacted mine.

Some places to adopt a dog in NYC

Bobbi and the strays

2 Rider place Freeport NY 11520


Animal care and control

2336 Linden Blvd Brooklyn NY



424 E92nd ST


Mighty mutts and ollie's place

Southwest corner of Union Square Park (14th Street and Union Square West) and in the Petco - Union Square (860 Broadway, New York, NY 10003)



200 Centre St NY NY


Mayor's alliance for NYC animals

244 Fifth Ave Suite R290 NY NY 10001-7604