When it comes to choosing a rescue dog, there are some important things to keep in mind. You want to find the perfect match for you and your family. Welcoming a new member into your family is such a big moment!
Shelter dogs are great companions but not every dog is right for every family. When making the decision on choosing a rescue dog, try to keep emotions out of it.
I know that is easier said then done. I would take them all home if I could!
I adopted my dog, Sadie, from a shelter and she was the best dog! Sadly, she passed away a little over a year ago and we are now at a point where we are thinking about adopting another dog.
Things will be a bit different this time since we have a child and another dog that will need to get along with whichever rescue dog we choose.
Since we are currently going through this process, I thought it would be good to share some things that we have learned by doing some research and from past experiences. Here are the ways we are choosing a rescue dog that will be perfect for us.
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Tips for Choosing a Rescue Dog
Before you even start looking at animal shelters, take some time to research different dog breeds. Since we have a 5 year old, I have been researching different breeds that are known to be great with kids.
We aren’t looking for a pure bred, but going into the shelter we will have some knowledge about the traits of which mixed breed we will be looking for.
If you live in a small apartment you may want to look into smaller breeds or those that don’t have a ton of energy.
Or you may lead a very active lifestyle so you will want a dog with lots of energy that you can take on hikes or runs.
Have about 4-5 different breeds in mind that would be a great fit for you.
Decide on an Age Range
Puppies are super cute but require a lot of work! If you are gone from home throughout the day, you may want to look into getting an older dog.
Younger dogs learn quickly but require more time commitment and are more needy. An older dog may be more set in his ways but won’t have as much energy or need constant attention.
Another bonus for getting an older dog is that there won’t be any surprises when it comes to his size or drastic changes to his behavior. They may even already be house trained or know tricks.
For us, we will be looking for a dog in the 9 months-2 year stage. They will still have a lot of energy but won’t be in that early puppy stage.
Questions to Ask When Adopting a Rescue Dog
Now that you have done a little bit of research on dog breeds and ages, let’s start getting honest with ourselves. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time commitment do you have for training?
- How big is your living space and will they have room to run?
- Does your pet need to get along with other animals or children?
- How active is your lifestyle?
- Are you away from home a lot?
Write down the answers to these questions and take them with you to the animal shelter. When talking with a volunteer let them know exactly what you are looking for in a dog and they can help point you in the right direction.
You don’t want to spend a lot of time with dogs that aren’t a good fit for you. You could get attached and in the end, they might not be a good match.
Use the Volunteer’s Knowledge
Once you arrive at the shelter speak with a volunteer. Let them know exactly what you are looking for in a dog and they can help you find the perfect dog for you. Some of them are there every single day so they know the dogs well.
If you have kids, leave them in the lobby or at home the first time you go to the shelter. Kids can easily get attached, so you want to keep a clear mind when making this decision.
Look at the dogs by yourself and then bring the kids back when you have it narrowed down to 2-3 candidates.
What to Look for When Choosing a Rescue Dog
Behavior to Look For
Look for dogs that run up to the kennels with excitement, not aggression. Dogs will bark in the shelter but it should not be a deep bark from the chest.
Take note of how friendly they are and if their tails are wagging and not tucked under.
I like to observe how they react when other dogs and people walk by as well. You don’t want a dog that lunges at anything walking by. Also, make note of how long it takes for the dog to calm down and/or stop barking.
Once you have a dog or two in mind, ask to take them outside on the leash.
When you get a dog out of the shelter setting, their demeanor can change for the better. They will be more relaxed and you can really get to know them. This is the time to let the kids come back and play with the dog.
Watch how rough the dog plays, how friendly they are with your kids, and if any loud noises scare them.
If you have another pet at home, most shelters will let you bring them to meet the new potential play mate. Just make sure you have their up to date shot records with you.
Take them Home for the Night
This will vary from each animal shelter but some may let you take the dog home for an overnight stay. If you are on the fence about a rescue dog, this could help put your mind at ease.
You can bring them home and see how they might adjust to life with you. By getting them away from the shelter, they might be more friendly and you can even see how they do on car rides.
Adjusting to a new home does take time but this can give you some idea about how they will get along with the whole family or any other pets.
Choosing a rescue dog is such an exciting time and I can’t wait to welcome a new dog to our family soon. It is a big commitment so you want to take the time to make sure it is a right fit for everyone.