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Sheltering and Behavioral Rehabilitation

Sheltering and Behavioral Rehabilitation

Many of our recently-rescued or recently-trapped dogs are shy, nervous or lack self-confidence; they may not solicit attention from a person and instead prefer to remain in the shadows. HARTT works to build their self-confidence so that they can achieve their ultimate career goal of becoming a “family pet”. Through love, gentle encouragement and through the inspiration of other confident “mentor” dogs, our rescues will learn important life skills such as making eye contact with a person; walking comfortably on a leash; learning to play; coming when called; and interacting with other dogs.

Most dogs that we rescue initially come to our HARTT shelter in north Phoenix where we allow them to relax, recover, decompress and begin to feel safe again. Others go into foster homes or to one of our rescue partners.

In some cases, our new arrivals may seem friendly or social once they are rescued, but the slightest unexpected experience can make them try to flee. They may have fears that seem irrational and even “silly”, but the simplest of things can cause extreme panic and fear. Skittish dogs can exhibit behaviors that may seem “PTSD-like”. When people suffer from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, certain sounds, smells, or sights can trigger memories of a past frightening event and can cause terror. This terror can trigger an immediate “fight or flight” response. With skittish dogs, they may have unpleasant associated experiences, or they may have simply never encountered them before. Common triggers include sounds of cars, fireworks or sirens; loud yelling by children or adults; wind, rain or thunder; the sound of regular household appliances; snapping sounds (shaking out clothes to put in the dryer; shaking out a trash bag); or people wearing hats, sunglasses, or carrying objects like a cane, broom, or baseball bat.

We lovingly teach these dogs to be less afraid of everyday things they perceive as scary, and we also teach new foster families and adopters how to keep a shy dog safe for the rest of his life.