Choosing a Rescue Dog

Choosing a Rescue Dog

The relationship that you will develop with a rescue dog is like no other and making the decision to welcome a rescue dog into your home can be one of the best decisions that you could make.

There is a variety of help available if you are thinking of rescuing a dog and the staff that work in rescue centres are able to answer any questions or concerns that you may have. However it is helpful to also have some guidance before you even start looking for a dog from a rescue centre, and hopefully this information will help you reach the right decision for you and your family.

Things to Consider before Rescuing a Dog:

 What is the best breed for me?

This question requires some research to learn a bit more about certain breeds and which would be most suitable for your family and lifestyle. A lot of dogs in rescue centres are of a mixed breed so be mindful of this whilst choosing. If you are uncertain then speak to the rescue centre staff who will be able to advise if a dog is suitable for your circumstances. 

 How much time will the dog be left alone?

This is an important question to ask yourself because some rescue dogs are unable to be left alone for long periods of time. Before you start visiting centres it is worth thinking about what measures you could introduce to ensure that the dog is not left alone for long periods (e.g. dog day care, dog walkers, pet sitters, etc.).

 Are there children in the household?

Due to the uncertain background that dogs in rescue centres have had, it is not always recommended for them to be rehomed in a household with children. A lot of the time it is dependent on the children’s ages as younger children can be difficult for a rescue dog to tolerate. Speak to the rescue centre staff before your visit as they will be able to advise you of the dogs that would be suitable for your family (this will prevent you from falling in love with a dog that cannot be rehomed with children).

 Are there other dogs in the household?

Some dogs in rescue centres absolutely thrive on the company of other dogs and will grow in confidence if they are rehomed to a house that already has dogs. However there are also other dogs that may not be as excited about this prospect and can only be rehomed to a house that does not have any other dogs. This does not mean that they are aggressive to other dogs, but it may be because they are timid characters or were poorly socialised as a puppy and do not know how to interact with other dogs. 

 How much training will the dog need?

This question can only be answered once you find a suitable dog, and it is important to remember that no matter what breed of dog you adopt they are all going to require some form of training so that they can successfully adapt to living with their new family. You may choose to attend a training class, or work with a trainer on a 1-2-1 basis.

Things to Look for Whilst Visiting the Centre

Behaviour in the Kennels

 Is the dog approaching you to interact or keeping its distance?

If the dog approaches you then this is a good sign as it shows that the dog is comfortable around people and enjoys interaction. Be cautious if the dog is laying at the back of the kennel as this may show that they are nervous of people or uncertain in general. If a dog remains in their bed during your visit then speak to the rescue centre staff as it may have an injury or had a recent operation which may prevent them from greeting you.

 Is the dog barking?

If you approach a kennel and a dog begins to bark at you consistently, then this can be incredibly off-putting for a potential owner. However please remember that living in a kennels is a highly stressful environment and the majority of this barking is purely through frustration. Dogs bark for a number of reasons but many people automatically feel that it is a display of aggression which the majority of the time it is not.  If you are interested in a dog that’s vocal then ask one of the rescue staff if you could meet the dog outside of the kennels – you will usually find that they are a completely different dog.

 What is the dog’s body language displaying?

Dog’s that feel relaxed will display this through their body language and will often have soft looking bodies. If the dog is excitable then their tails may be whirling around like a windmill.

Be cautious of dogs that have rigid bodies and are standing at the back of the kennels with wide eyes staring. Their tails may be wagging low and quick which can be a sign of uncertainty.  Be extremely cautious if a dog is baring their teeth or begins snarling at you.

Behaviour Outside the Kennels

 Does the dog want to interact with you or ignore you?

It’s a great sign if the dog is eager to meet you and interact with you outside of the kennels. If the dog would rather spend time interacting with the environment rather than you then think carefully about if this dog is suitable for you. Although rescue dogs spend the majority of their time living in kennels and will of course want to explore when they are removed from this environment, they should also be excited and eager to receive attention from human company. 

General Advice

Always be honest with the rescue centre staff about your situation and circumstances. The staff are there to help match the right dog with the right owner so they will require as much information as possible about you and your lifestyle. This helps to prevent any dogs returning to the centre at a later date because they are not compatible with their owners.

Good Luck

Once you make the decision to rehome a rescue dog, it will hopefully be a decision that you will not regret. Rescue dogs are so loving and loyal to their owners, and even though some of them may have been let down by humans in the past, their constant ability to forgive and love again just proves how remarkable these dogs are.

Good luck and have fun with your new dog!