How To Choose a Rescue Dog

Adopting a dog from a rescue group is an excellent idea. Dogs who are placed in rescue groups are considered to be highly adoptable dogs who were either difficult to place through a shelter or who were surrendered to the rescue by owners who believed the rescue group was the best option for re-homing their dog. Rescue groups may accept a variety of breeds or may be breed-specific rescues. Breed-specific rescues typically only accept one breed or dogs that are mixed with the specific breed.

The advantage to adopting a dog through a rescue group is that most dogs are cared for in a foster home where the foster parents learn a great deal about the dog while he is in their care and can also work on training him in appropriate behaviors and correcting inappropriate behaviors.

The following tips are helpful for those who wish to consider adopting a dog from a rescue group.

  1. Research the type of dog you want before searching for a dog to adopt. Prospective dog owners should carefully consider the type of dog they wish to adopt; this should include considerations such as age, breed, energy level, size and coat type.

  • Research the type of dog you select. If you decide on a particular breed of dog, it is important to do some additional research on this specific breed to determine whether or not it would be a good fit for your home, family and living situation. Some breeds need a great deal of room to run around, while others are content to live in a confined environment.
  • Learn a little about dog training. Before adopting any dog, you should become familiar with a few basic training techniques to determine whether or not you feel you will be able to train a dog.
  • Investigate the rescue groups in your area. If you have decided on a specific breed, you can use the Internet or contact your local shelter to determine if there are breed-specific rescues in your area. If you are seeking a rare breed you might have to search outside your area and consider traveling to adopt a dog. If you are not looking for a particular breed, you can contact all breed rescues to see what types of dogs they have available.
  • Once you find a rescue dog you are interested in adopting, contact the rescue group to express your interest and learn more about the particular dog as well as the breed in general. The foster parents of the dog will be able to tell you if the dog has any specific adoption criteria, such as only being available to homes with older children or requiring adoption by a family with a fenced in yard. They may also be able to tell you if the dog has any health issues or other special needs.
  • If you are still interested in the dog after speaking to the rescue find out their adoption requirements and make arrangements to visit the dog. If you have children or another dog, it is not recommended to bring them on the initial visit so as to evaluate whether or not the dog is a good fit during this initial visit.
  • If after the initial visit, you determine the dog may be a good fit, you can bring your children and other dogs on a subsequent visit so they can all meet. During this visit, carefully monitor and evaluate how the dog interacts with your children and other dogs. Be especially mindful of aggressive behaviors. The dog should be gentle around your children and should not display aggressive behaviors such as growling or snapping towards your children or other dogs. Your dogs and the rescue dogs may not be overly friendly at first and may even posture in an attempt to establish pack order, but should not physically attack your dogs.
  • If the meeting with your children and dogs went well and you make the decision to adopt the rescue dog, you should follow all of the adoption procedures required by the rescue. This will likely include an adoption application, a home visit to ensure you can provide a safe home for the dog and an adoption fee which may cover the cost of spaying or neutering the dog.
  • Once you adopt a rescue dog, it is important to remember it will likely take some time for the dog to adjust to your home and for you and your family to adjust to the dog. Many rescue groups offer to take the dog back if you decide he is not a good fit for your home, but they recommend you wait a couple of weeks to give everyone some time to adjust before making a decision.
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