When you choose to adopt a rescue dog, not only are you gaining a new family member, but you’re saving a life. And in turn, another life can be saved as there is now another spot available at the shelter.
There are so many dogs waiting to find their perfect home that there is a lot of choice.
So how can you be sure to choose the right dog for you and your family?
Here’s a few things I’d consider when adopting:
- Energy levels
This would be one of the most important things to get right when adopting a dog. The energy levels should match yours. If you want to go running with the dog for miles every day then you don’t want to choose a couch potato. And vice versa. If you’re not a high-energy person then a high-energy dog will be high maintenance for you and you may not be able to keep up.
Ideally your dog will have plenty of room at his new place but keep in mind that size and energy level do not always relate to each other the way you may think. For example, did you know that Great Danes are known as great apartment dogs as they are so chilled? And that greyhounds are known to be couch potatoes?
- Coat type
If you’re considering a long coated dog, be aware that all that hair has to go somewhere so make sure you can handle it. Longer coated breeds need regular grooming. You’ll have to make a long term commitment to either spending time on it yourself, or spending money on it through someone else. Some dogs don’t shed but then they need regular clipping so make sure you prepare for the ongoing expense.
Does the dog have any pre-existing health problems? Or are they a breed or type that are prone to certain ailments? It’s perfectly fine to adopt a dog with a health problem as long as you’re prepared for how to manage it.
This is another huge one! Probably most important is the dog’s temperament. Is the dog friendly to people? To other dogs? To children or all ages? Does the dog have any phobias that could make him difficult to manage? These are all questions you should know the answer to before making your final choice.
- Training needs
All dogs need training, but it’s good to be aware that some dogs may need more training than others. Does the dog you are considering know any basic commands? Are they house-trained? If not, do you know how to go about training the dog? A good place to start is to have our free rescue dog checklist for settling in on hand.
- Any serious behavior problems?
Things like aggression or separation anxiety are very difficult to live with and take a long time to fix. It’s worth knowing about any major behavioral issues before making your final choice.
Knowing that dog’s history can be a blessing or a curse. I say this because one thing I see happen a lot is that if the dog has had a bad past, the owner feels so bad for the dog that they allow them to get away with terrible bad habits. It’s important to move on to a happy and positive future by treating the dog like any other well-loved dog, but also with the same rules.
- Your emotions
As much as you’ll want to take every dog home, you need to make the decision that’s right for you. Choosing a dog because you feel sad for it because no one can get near it is not going to be an easy journey for anyone involved if you’re not a trained behavior expert. By the same token, choosing a dog solely on looks isn’t always the best decision.
- Time Commitments
How much time can you spend with your new family member? Just like energy levels, dogs vary as to how much time they need you to commit to them in training, exercise and just quality time. Research breeds and types that you are considering to get a good idea of their needs.
The cost of both purchasing and owning a dog can also vary depending on the age, breed and size too.
- Other dogs at home
Do you already have another dog/s at home? Make sure your existing dog is likely to get along with your new dog. Just like matching energy levels to you, it’s a good idea to choose a dog with similar energy levels to your current dog.
Experience puppy-hood or skip the puppy stage? There’s often puppies available in shelters. If the breed mix is unknown, it could be a bit of a gamble as to what you’ll end up with but you can still get a great idea of the temperament and energy levels from a young age. Typically most shelter dogs are young dogs but past the small puppy stage.There are also many older dogs in shelters and they often get over-looked. Could you open up your home to a golden oldie? The time spent with you may be less, but could be twice as rewarding.
While all of these points are important, when you know, you know. And sometimes… You just know. Sometimes people find their doggy soul mate, sparks fly and they drive off into the sunset…
Other times, the bond needs to build up over time. And that’s perfectly okay too.
Either way, there’s several things you can do to increase the bond between you and your new addition as well as to set the house rules in place. See the free Rescue Dog Checklist download to help your dog settle in, bond with you and learn the ropes of their new home.
May you find the perfect rescue dog to adopt and give them the happily ever after that they so deserve…