Adopting a rescue dog is a rewarding and a wonderful way to save a pet’s life, but these dogs often come with a checkered past and behavioral challenges, such as being too shy, aggressive or fearful. The key is doing your homework and deciding what type of pet, down to the character and looks, would best suit your lifestyle.
Those big goofy eyes, curly tail and cuddly nature made you fall in love at first sight, and before you know it, the adorable pup is living in your home. And then certain behaviors begin to surface. How could something so cute be so scared of babies, little kids and elderly people? Loud noises like vacuums and thunder might not cause a flinch, but carry a broom around, and bam! The little guy shakes like a leaf.
Rescue dogs are becoming more and more popular to adopt, and that’s good. But too often, in an attempt to find forever homes for these neglected souls, the shelters will lie about the dogs’ history — even concocting trendy breeds in an effort to make them sound more desirable. Potential adopters lie, too, — to themselves. “Every dog is perfect, but one dog cannot be perfect for everyone,” says expert dog trainer Judit Arroyo, founder and training director of Canina Dog Training. “Good temperament and personality are relevant to the person’s needs and desires.”
Have a new furry friend at home? Arroyo shares these useful tips and insights to help you and your rescue dog get acclimated.
Consider the space
“Dogs need space both at home and individually. For that cute and shy dog you found at the back of the crate in the shelter, you will need more space. This dog might feel uncomfortable having strangers in close proximity.”
“While every dog needs exercise, some breeds require more than others. Most behavioral problems are developed when a dog has too much energy that has not been released properly through mental and physical stimulation. Some common outlets to release energy when left to the dog are: chewing, barking, jumping, pulling and window- or gate-guarding. I always say a tired dog is a happy owner.”
Invest in training
“Sadly, many dogs are surrendered or returned when the owners find themselves not ready for the financial responsibility that comes with having a dog. A rescue dog might have old habits, but a new environment can help teach new habits through positive training. Do not wait until those bad habits surface to seek training — the sooner the better. To find a local trainer who uses positive-reinforcement training, go to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.”
Balance your time together
“Most rescue dogs will exhibit some separation anxiety or fear of being alone. Help the dog feel more comfortable by allowing them to spend some time alone in their crate (to avoid destructive chewing). Start with small increments of time. Make sure your pup is well-rested and has something to do in the crate like chew on a stuffed Kong. Having any time off work can actually work in your favor by giving you the flexibility and control over the time your dog is left alone.”
Do your research
“A reputable rescue agency will ask you questions and do a home check. Some even offer to [let you] foster a dog, which is a great way to get to know the dog outside of the shelter environment. Many reputable rescue agencies are protective about their rescue dogs, as they should be, so that they find a forever home.”