I meet dogs every day from all walks of life—young little pups carefully chosen from breeders, adolescent dogs who need to burn off energy, older sugar faces who want to sport their stuff,” says Angela Pantalone. As the owner of Wag Central (wagcentralct.com)—a state-of-the-art doggy daycare that offers day programs for boarding, training, grooming and swimming—her specialty is dog socialization and her business is “the hub of canine social culture.” That means she knows rescue dogs. Fairfield Living magazine asked for her advice on adopting pups and introducing them to their new family.
FROM THE EXPERT: HOW TO INTRODUCE A NEW RESCUE DOG INTO YOUR HOME
WHAT SHOULD ADOPTERS KNOW ABOUT RESCUES?
“Rescue pups are always an interesting case. Young or old, there are gaps in the dog’s history that we don’t know about. Did the pup come from a mom who was overbred? Was the pup separated from the litter too early without learning how to speak dog? Has the pup been shuffled from shelter to shelter and have issues as a result of the instability? The list can go on and on. And behaviors exhibited in the home, in social situations, or integration into a household can be all over the place. It’s admirable, politically correct and socially responsible to adopt a rescue dog. There are so many in need of a good home, who need love and who will give it back unconditionally. Dogs are loyal, love unconditionally, and some would even say are soulmates.”
ANY TIPS ON FINDING A RESCUE DOG?
“Get the dog from a respected and reputable rescue. There are so many, and in my experience are run by dedicated, loving people whose first priority is the health, welfare and safety of the dog at present and into the future. There are stringent applications and meetings and sometimes home checks; and if there are other pets in the household, meet and greets are a must.”
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP A RESCUE ADAPT TO A NEW HOME?
“Let’s talk a bit about what setting up a dog to succeed means, since we hear this expression a lot. When you welcome a new pup into your home, you expect it to live by certain standards. Perhaps you don’t want the dog on the couch, or upstairs, or on your counter top. No one wants an Oriental rug to be a dog waste station. Seriously, you don’t want an anxious dog that chews up your shoes, chair legs or Lillian August couch. And most seriously, you do not want a dog who is aggressive to other dogs and especially to humans. The whys of this are all obscure; we are dealing with a rescue.”
5 WAYS TO SET UP A NEW DOG FOR SUCCESS
1 BLOCK THE NO-GO ZONES
“Gates, blockades, closed doors and crates all help to contain pups in the spaces they are meant to be in.”
“Dog-proofing your house isn’t much different from baby-proofing. Pick up your shoes, bags, snacks and plates and keep them a good distance away from where the pup can get to them.”
3 LOTS OF CHEWS
“Always have a lot of things that are OK for them to chew on hand. Antlers are a bit pricey, but they last forever and keep pups busy for a long time. I’m also a fan of No-Hide rawhides, which comes in flavors. If your wagger is a destroyer, tough toys are best. Ingesting small bits of plastic or fluff can cause choking or blockages.”
4 DETER BAD CHEWING
“Bitter apple spray tastes yucky and can help deter pups from chewing on table legs, wood or anything else that they shouldn’t.”
5 GET A TRAINER
“A reputable trainer can help with teeth showing, aggression, lunging and barking. Word of mouth is the best bet to finding a trainer because of their different philosophies on how to train your dog. The word ‘No!’ works in all philosophies, so use it. Tell the trainer that you have a rescue, and listen to what he or she has to say. If e-collars and pinch collars are not your cup of tea, move on.”
IF IT DOESN’T WORK OUT…
“You are not a failure. Every rescue I’ve ever worked with will take their dogs back. You need to do what’s best for you, your family and, of course, the dog.”