Lifestyle | 1 Min Read

How to Choose a Rescue Dog

As a dog mum to three dogs, I know the joys of bringing new four-legged friends into our family. However, it is important to consider the many factors that go into making the decision to add new pets to your home.

The dog that you choose must be right for you and your family’s needs, and equally important, you must be right for the dog. Adopting a rescue dog is a heartwarming experience, especially when you see them thriving in their new loving home. 

Think carefully before you commit to the idea

Before you start searching for a suitable dog, it is really important to work out whether you are actually suitable to have a dog.

As a dog owner myself, I can tell you that dogs take up a lot of time and money. They will need daily – if not twice daily – walks, food, play time, grooming and trips to the vet. It can cost up to $30,000 to feed and care for a pet over the course of its life, and this doesn’t include any unforeseen emergency veterinary treatments.

Also consider whether you are planning on travelling or having a baby in the near future – if so, you shouldn’t adopt a dog. Don’t ever choose a dog impulsively – it’s a recipe for disaster, and is often the reason why so many dogs are surrendered or abandoned.

Do your research

Once you are comfortable with this, you can begin looking for your perfect match. Adopting a rescue dog is a very special thing to do – you are giving an abandoned or even mistreated dog a second chance. It’s so important to choose a dog that is right for you, as the last thing we want is for them to end up back in the shelter because you made the wrong choice. You may need to be patient – it can take many months to find the right dog, but it will be worth the wait!

Consider your needs

Write down a list of your needs. Some things to consider are:

  • Do you want a puppy? This means that you will have to deal with 6-12 months of toilet training, chewing and mischievous puppy behaviour, which can be challenging. But you’ll hopefully have the dog in your life for 10-15 years depending on the breed and their overall health.
  • Would you prefer an older dog? While old age is not a disease, older dogs can be prone to certain health conditions. Some people may choose an older dog as it suits their quieter lifestyle.
  • Are allergies an issue in your household? Some people are allergic to dog saliva, while others can have allergies to fur. If this is the case, you may want to choose a low-shedding dog.
  • Do you see yourself with a big or small dog? Remember that large dogs can cost more money in terms of feeding and health care. The size of your home is not so important in choosing the dog size. Some large dogs are actually quite lazy and may suit apartments.
  • What is your lifestyle like? Do you want an active dog you can run with? Or would you prefer a dog with less demanding exercise requirements? Keep in mind that all dogs need daily exercise, but some will need a lot more than others.
  • What kind of work schedule do you have? If the dog will be left alone for long periods of time, you may need to look at things like doggy daycare or dog walking services to keep them occupied. Having two dogs might also be a good option as they can keep each other company.
  • What is your home like? Is it an apartment or house? Is your fencing secure? Dogs are social animals and should not be kept outdoors only. If you are planning to get a dog and not allow it inside, then perhaps you should reconsider getting one at all.

Go to the shelters

The next step is to visit the shelters. When you’re there, chat to staff about your requirements. Some questions to ask include:

  • What is the dog’s background (breed, age, health, how long have they been at the shelter)?
  • Who did the dog live with previously (single person, a family with older or younger kids)?
  • Has the dog been socialised and assessed with people, other dogs, other pets and noises?
  • Does the dog have any behavioural problems (such as phobias or separation anxiety)?
  • Has the dog had some basic training?

Meet and greet

Once you have worked through the above, it’s time to see if you have an emotional connection with the dog. Most people can feel a bond straight away, and if you and the dog are right for each other, that bond will strengthen each day.

I always recommend that people have a trial period of two to three weeks with their rescue dog. This is a good way to work out whether you and the dog are happy. If things aren’t right, it’s better to know sooner rather than later so that something can be done about it.

Have a check up

It’s important to take your new dog to the vet for a check up and to work out their healthcare plan. I also suggest signing up for a pet health insurance policy as soon as you get the dog. This will provide some financial peace of mind if any unforeseen accidents or illnesses occur.