Due to the uptick in pet adoptions during the pandemic, we have updated this entry and added some useful links.
If you are thinking of adding a new member to your family, adopting a rescue dog could be good path to take. Adopting a rescue benefits not only you and your family, but a dog that badly needs a loving home.
Of course, adopting a rescue dog may also have some pitfalls, but if you go in knowing exactly what to expect, you can avoid the worst of them. Here are some tips when adopting a rescue dog. These will also apply to other rescue animals.
Make sure you are ready to adopt
The rescue dogs in shelters are definitely ready for adoption. The question is, are you? The first you need to consider is whether you and your family has the commitment to adopt a rescued dog. This is the first thing you need to ask yourself when thinking of getting a dog, regardless of whether it is a rescue dog or not.
Talk this over with your family and make sure you are all on board with the idea. Having a dog is a big responsibility, and if it is your first pet as a family, you may not realize how big a responsibility it really is.
We suggest that you try fostering a rescue dog first instead of adopting it outright. Think of it as a sort of test run to give you and your family some idea of what you are getting yourselves into before actually committing. It will also help you prepare better for when you do decide to adopt a rescue dog.
Do your research
It always pays to do research and get as much information as possible. This puts you in a better position to make good decisions.
A good place to start is to debunk the misconceptions about rescue dogs. The biggest of these is that rescue dogs are abused or abandoned dogs. This means it will be very hard and problematic to take care of them.
The truth is, although some rescued dogs were abandoned and abused, most are in shelters for other reasons. Many healthy dogs in shelters, including puppies, come from happy, loving families that just cannot take care of another dog for one reason or another. They send these dogs to shelters in the hopes that others with more resources will adopt and be able enjoy their company.
Aside from researching more about rescue dogs in general, it is also very important to find out as much as you can about the history and background of the dog you plan to adopt. Do not be shy about asking as many questions as you want from the rescue organization, and expect straightforward answers.
Put yourself in their shoes
To better understand how to deal with a rescue dog, try to put yourself in their position. This will make it easier for you to understand their behavior and know how to deal with it.
The first thing you should remind yourself is that you do not know much about them. The shelter may give you some idea about their history or background but for the most part you do not know what kind of personality they have or how they will behave.
Keep in mind that most rescue dogs are scared. It does not matter if they were abandoned, abused or came from a happy family. They have just been transferred to a shelter, an unfamiliar environment where they are people and dogs that are all strangers to them. Before they can get accustomed to this environment, you come along and introduce them to yet another strange environment. This constant change of surroundings is enough to scare any dog. Or most people, for that matter.
Prepare your home
Just as you childproof your home for toddlers, you should dog proof your home for the new arrival.
- Keep small items that a dog might swallow out of their reach.
- Make sure there are no loose wires, cables or strings around that they might bite on or chew.
- Keep chemicals and medicines sealed tight and out of reach.
- Remove poisonous plants from your home, or at least out of reach.
Give them proper training
Most rescue dogs have been through different surroundings and supervised by different people, so they usually pick up a few bad habits along the way. The good news is dogs easily adapt to new environments, but you should still make sure they do so properly by giving them the right training.
You and your family can do this on your own with a little research. If you feel uneasy doing it yourself, find out from your veterinarian where you can avail of the services of a good dog trainer.
Make sure they are healthy
Most shelters give the dogs under their care regular checkups, but this is usually quite basic. It may not reveal serious or major health problems that a more thorough examination may find. It is best to bring your newly adopted dog to your own veterinarian for a more thorough examination.
Make time for them
The most important consideration for you is time. You need to have quite a bit of this, as well as patience, when you first bring home your scared arescue dog is scared. You must give them time to adjust to you, your family and your home.
They may not warm up to everyone in the family. If this happens, keep that person away initially and gradually allow them to come near. Do the same with other pets as this may also occur if you have other pets.
Give them some space to process their new circumstances. This can be as small as a basket with a pillow or as large as an entire room. This may take some time, so avoid pressuring them and let them work it out.
For some it will take one to two days for other it could take one to three weeks. Just show them as much love and care you give to the other members of the family and soon they will feel part of the pack. The important thing to remember is for you and the other people in your family to not get frustrated with the situation as they will pick up on your emotions and this will not help in the transition to adapt.