Adopting a homeless animal is extremely rewarding but you need to think carefully before you commit to the idea. Like getting any new pet, choosing a rescue dog requires careful planning and financial commitment for the life of your furry friend.
With so many unwanted dogs desperate for love, it can also be overwhelming to choose the right one for your home and family.
It’s incredibly important that you choose carefully as the last thing you want is for the dog to end up back in the shelter because you made the wrong choice.
I’ve collected some great advice from dog trainers, behaviourists and animal rescue experts about choosing a rescue pet.
Firstly, decide if you want a puppy or an older dog. Puppies bring with them months of toilet training, chewing and mischievous behaviour, which can be challenging to deal with! Older dogs can be prone to certain health conditions, but their mature age make them ideal for a quieter lifestyle.
Do you see yourself with a big or small dog, keeping in mind that large dogs can cost more with feeding and health care? Can you keep up with an active dog or prefer one with less demanding exercise requirements?
How long will you leave your dog home alone? Do you live in an apartment or house? If you plan to get a dog and not allow it inside, perhaps reconsider getting one at all.
Once you have considered these questions, consider these expert tips to find the right rescue dog for you and your family:
- Start with searching pet rescue websites and visit shelters and pounds.
- Many shelters and rescue groups work hard to make good matches between people and rescue pets, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Chat to staff about your requirements and ask about the animals’ background (breed, age, health, how long have they been at the shelter) and who they lived with (single person, a family with older or younger kids).
- Has the pet been socialised and assessed with people, children, other animals and noises?
- Has the dog had basic obedience training and displayed any behavioural problems, such as anxiety or phobias?
- When you find a dog that ticks all your boxes, it’s time for cuddles! If you feel a connection straight away, you have found your match!
Be patient with your rescue pet as they adjust to their new home. If you need help, call the shelter or rescue group and/or bring in a dog trainer for advice.
Animal behaviourist Dr Joanne Righetti said about ‘pet rescue dilemmas’, “If it is not working out, ask the shelter for help. If it is really not working, you can ask to take the animal back to the shelter. This is not failure. Learn what did not work and choose more carefully next time.”
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