8 Things to Consider When You Adopt a Rescue Dog

8 Things to Consider When You Adopt a Rescue Dog

Every year, millions of dogs end up in rescue shelters and taking one from there to their forever home with you can be one of the best and most reward

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Every year, millions of dogs end up in rescue shelters and taking one from there to their forever home with you can be one of the best and most rewarding feelings in the world. If you’re a dog lover, then the idea of dogs cooped up and feeling miserable in kennels probably tugs at your heartstrings. Getting a rescue dog is a great alternative to buying a puppy since you’re not contributing to breeding and are providing a home for a dog who was otherwise unwanted. Unfortunately, rescue dogs can present some unique challenges for their owners, depending on their situation and background – so it’s important to make sure that you are ready for the dog before you jump into making that commitment.

Remember That Each Dog is Unique:

Like people, no two dogs are alike, and the same is certainly true for rescue dogs. Just because somebody you know rescued a dog who ended up needing extensive work and training, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get one who is perfectly behaved and well-trained. Dogs end up in shelters for a whole host of reasons. There’s a stereotype around rescue dogs that they’ve all come from terrible backgrounds and have anxiety issues and behavioural problems as a result, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there will always be some dogs like this in shelters, but others could be there because their loving owner passed away, or they were sadly given up because of a severe change in circumstances.

Get to Know the Dog First:

Because every rescue dog is different, it’s a good idea to spend some time with them and get to know them first. Most good rescue shelters won’t let you walk in and walk out with a dog on the same day; you should, in fact, be wary of anywhere that does allow this. Most will require you to spend some time getting to know the dog to make sure that they are a good fit for you and your family.

If fostering the dog for a while before committing to adopting them is an option, this could be a great idea as it allows you to get to know the dog in your own home and allow them to get used to you too, giving you a better idea of whether your family is right for them.

Put Breed Biases Aside:

When rescuing dogs, you’re probably going to be more likely to see certain breeds compared to others. Pit bulls, for example, often end up in rescue shelters through no fault of their own because they are often stereotyped as being aggressive or dangerous. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth with most pit bulls, who are actually massive, loving softies. One study even found them to be less aggressive than Chihuahuas!

Your Dog Will Need Time to Adjust:

Once you’ve found the perfect dog for you at the rescue centre – or they’ve decided that you are their perfect human, as is more likely – bear in mind that they are going to need some time to adjust. Taking any dog into a new environment can be a bit of a shock to them at first, so you’ll need to be patient and give them some space to get to know their new surroundings. Once you’ve chosen your dog, it can be helpful to give the shelter an item of your clothing to put in their bed with them before you take them home, so that they can get used to your smell and will be more familiar with it by the time they come back with you. Take your time, be gentle and patient, and eventually, your dog will begin to feel more comfortable and confident in their new home.


Make sure that all basics are covered before you bring your new pet home, to ensure that settling into their new home and family is easier than ever. Speak to the shelter about what they are feeding the dogs and decide whether you want to continue with the same food or switch them over to the new diet.

Many dog owners are realising the benefits of raw feeding, which provides dogs with all the nutrients that they need and has far fewer carbohydrates compared with processed kibble or canned dog food. If you want to switch to raw feeding, it might be better to take a gradual approach with a rescue dog so as not to change too much for them in a short amount of time or continue feeding them what they are used to and make the switch once they’re used to their new home. Bella and Duke is a reputable raw feeding brand providing pre-packaged, freezable raw meals for your dog. There is also plenty of fantastic advice about feeding and switching your dog to a raw diet on the Bella and Duke website.

Be Aware of Separation Anxiety:

Although this condition is not exclusive to rescue dogs, separation anxiety can be one of the more common behavioural challenges with dogs from a shelter. This is especially true of a dog who has gotten used to spending time around other dogs all day long at the shelter, only to be rehomed as the only pet. Dogs who were previously abandoned may also suffer separation anxiety. The key is to be patient and show your dog that no matter what happened to them in their previous home, you’re always going to be there for them now. If you must leave your dog alone, some things to try include leaving music on or providing them with a treat-dispensing puzzle game to keep them occupied. Begin by only leaving them alone for short periods of time so that they know you’re always going to come back and gradually build up.

Avoid Giving Free Roam of the House:

Until you’re sure that your dog knows all the rules of your home and can abide by them even when you’re not home, you should avoid giving them free roam of the house. Even though some rescue dogs might have been house-trained by previous owners, this doesn’t mean that they understand the same applies in their new home. In fact, it’s quite common in any dog to forget all the rules of house training in a different home because they’re so used to doing their business in a certain spot in their own garden. To avoid accidents and keep your new dog safe, it’s best to crate train them or keep them restricted to one part of your home.


Finally, the amount of training that you’ll need to do will depend wholly on the dog that you bring home. Speak to the rescue centre about their background and how much they already know. Some dogs will have been well-trained already while others will need to be taught the basics. Either way, training classes are a great way to bond with your new dog and provide them with something to keep them occupied.

Getting a rescue dog is one of the most compassionate and rewarding things that you can do as a dog lover. And, once you bring that dog home and show them that they’re wanted and loved, you’ll be their hero for life.