Watch Rescue Dog Rio Build Confidence Through Play

Rio’s human used play to help the fearful shelter dog become a well-adjusted best friend.

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Time plus patience mixed with a healthy dose of play. This is often the recipe for raising a happy dog. And it certainly was the case with Rio – a rescue pup who was adopted by Hany Hosny from an animal control facility in Roanoke, Virginia.

At the time of his adoption, when Rio was about 2 years old, he knew nothing about how to play or interact with toys or most humans. He was fearful and emotionally unstable with poor social skills. But within three weeks, he started to make some real progress in becoming a well-adjusted animal. Two months later, he was able to accompany his new family on public outings. And as you might be able to tell from this four-minute video, much of his improvement was thanks to play.

It’s incredible that Rio went from growling at Hosny – along with most men and any women with baggy clothes – to becoming a true best friend. Thanks to his strong prey drive and love of running, Rio was an eager student when Hosny began his training. And just take a look at him now, chasing and fetching a ball, catching a toss midair, darting after a plaything. Rather than blame the victim and give up on the rescue, Hosny decided to invest in the pup and give him the confidence he needed to trust, relax, and play to his heart’s content.

Whitney C. Harris

Whitney is a New York-based writer for websites including Dogster,, and A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with her dog, Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by). She and her husband (and Finley, too) welcomed a baby girl named Rowan in August.


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