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Picking a Rescue Dog to Adopt - What to do?

When it comes time to bring a new family member into the home there is a lot to think about.  We work a lot with dogs that have been dumped or removed from a family and put into alternate care.  There is a lot of emotion around the words rescue and adopt – so I am deliberately leaving these words out as I want any new owner of a dog (under law they are classified as transferable property) to be able to think logically about the situation they are about to embark on.  Remember dogs live longer than most relationships.  We work hard as an organisation to provide free training and assistance to help vulnerable dogs get the training they need to be rehomed.  So in the next section we will outline things to consider and ask to set yourself up for success as best as possible.  We are all about saving as many lives as possible – the first step is ensuring the right fit and match of dog to human so it is for life. No being is perfect – be prepared to put in training. Love does not solve all problems.

Lets start with Breed

 * Have you had a real think about how much exercise the dog will need? Not well I need to exercise and get out of the house – stop thinking about you – this is a life you are about to take on board – it is a commitment to another being, if you have to get a dog to motivate you, chances are you will give up on the dog like a gym membership. Research the breed – working dogs like collies and kelpies need a lot more exercise than a Pomeranian.  Do you have the time with your job? Are you single and going to mingle so forget the dog in preference to a date? Are you too busy with the kids extra curricular activities? You need to be honest about this – not an emotional whim.

 * Does the dog have breed characteristics that are poorly suited to your living environment?  If you are in a unit or apartment is a Great Dane an appropriate choice?  Do you live on a suburban block with only a courtyard? A Short haired pointer would be a poor choice.

 * How much stimulation of the brain can you give your dog?  Can you commit to providing an environment which provides for your dogs mental needs not just physical?

 * Can you commit to at least an hour every day with your dog where it is just you and them? Providing the nurturing and love that they deserve and the ability to be in a Hybrid pack situation with you.

 Other Considerations

 * Can you financially afford to ensure a high quality diet and Parasite protection. This can be in excess of $4000 a year.

 * Can you afford proper veterinary care?  Love doesn’t solve sick dogs – they may never have had care before which could mean expensive bills down the track.  You need to be realistic – don’t be the one to get a new mate only to put it down because you have no money – that is not fair to the dog as a living being.

Questions to ask and what to do

These questions are so you aware of any behavioural needs you will need to address with training – every animal comes with baggage like humans but in order for you to help you need to know.  If you are refused these requests take that as a red flag.  Any statements of the dogs attitude or testing should be in writing not a spoken conversation that can be denied.  Where ever you get your new mate, gumtree – private surrender – charitable organization – they should be able to tell you Tested – Untested – or tested with X number of animals (ie cats) or in X situation so you can determine yourself.  You are taking a life into your hands – you need to get it right.

 * When you decide on a dog you then need to do a practical assessment yourself.  When you go to meet the dog – ask to go for a walk near a local dog park while dogs are in there so you can see if there is any dog reactivity to other dogs – there is no point having a dog you cannot walk safely. Again if you are prepared to put in the effort to train then there is no issue.

 * Ask what the dog is like around humans under adult age in various age groups.

 * Ask what the dog is like around other animals.

 * Ask if the dog is adversive to new situations – different human ethnicities – or sexes

 * Ask if the dog is an escape artist – or has problems with dogs on the other sides of fences in its own yard.

 * Do not be afraid to ask the questions – you are making a long term commitment to a living being.


These are all simple things you can do to ensure the right fit for your family situation.  Every family is different and their needs are different – you need to ensure the fit is right so it is a forever fit – not a rebound to the rescue or a death sentance because of a wrong fit.  This is not fair to the dog – do your due dilligence and save a life not ruin one.

And most of all – always seek professional help for behavioural issues to ensure a happy dog and happy family.