Should You Consider Adopting A Rescue Dog?

should i adopt a shelter dog

So your thinking of getting a new dog and what an enjoyable experience that will be. But then you will need to decide where would you get a dog from? Should you get a pure breed puppy from a reputable private breeder, do you buy a dog from one of the many pet stores that do sell dogs and hope they are not from those puppy mills everyone talks about, or should you consider adopting a rescue dog from the animal shelter? While each of these options has its pros and cons, keep reading to see why you should consider getting a rescue dog from a pet shelter.

Is It Good To Get A Rescue Dog?

Yes! Adopting a rescue dog is a good thing to do as you will be saving a dog’s life, as the sad truth of it all is that even with no-kill shelters if they do not find a permanent home many shelter dogs face death sentences. And while some shelter dogs are known to not get along with other pets or humans most do not have these behavioral concerns.

People surrender their dogs for many different reasons, and it is actually really sad to walk through the local shelter and see them all waiting for someone to take them home. Sometimes their owners were unaware of the responsibility that come with owning a dog before getting one. Others become lost and unable to find their way home to their previous owner, and without any identification, this is unfortunately where they will usually end up.

Depending on what you are looking for, you may want a small relatively inactive companion dog or a big energetic dog to go on a run with you. There are a wide variety of dogs available that can usually be found in a pet shelter, and an amazing number of them do get re-homed, become an important member of the family, and even make great watchdogs.

Another good reason to get a rescue dog is that even before you consider getting one, they will normally have been microchipped, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. They will also have had an extensive medical examination done by a vet. And for a small adoption fee, as compared to the outrageous prices you would have to pay at the pet stores, you will get to take your new friend home.

What Questions Should I Ask When Adopting A Rescue Dog?

You should ask about the whole adoption process and if there is an application to be filled out before adopting a dog, as well as, what the fee will be, and if there is any additional support or advice available if you are a new pet owner. You will want to know anything to do with the dog’s health, and teeth, make sure that a full health check has been conducted, and if any problems were identified. 

Ask about is the dog’s temperament. Are there any behavioral issues that they may have noticed, which you should be concerned about? You do not want an overly aggressive dog especially if you have small children in your home. Or a dog that is so shy, they will just hide under the sofa or in a dark corner.

Knowing the dog’s approximate age is a good thing to know. Older dogs are usually calmer and easier to work with as compared to a puppy. They might have also had some obedience and potty training previously. Overall an older dog will normally be great for first-time dog owners and they will love you just the same as a puppy would.

You will also want to know what breed of dog they are. Although most rescue dogs will be of mixed breeds, that will at least give you a starting point for you to do further reading and research on what you could expect from your new furry friend.

There are many more questions you might be wondering about the dog you and your family are considering getting and you should feel free to ask the rescue shelter worker all of these questions before bringing your new dog home.

What Do I Need To Know When Adopting A Rescue Dog?

As with getting any dog, there are a few things you should know before adopting a rescue dog. The first thing you should absolutely know before adopting shelter pets is, are you and your family able to commit to this dog for the long term. Depending on their age, you will have this new adorable and loving family member in your life for many many years to come.

While most pet rescue shelters evaluate the dog’s behavior before putting them up for adoption, sometimes you just do not really know what the behavior will be of that dog you are thinking of adopting until you have had them at home for a while. You might not want to take home a dog with excessive barking, or a dog that is high maintenance.

Consider making a checklist of what you are looking for in a dog and ask the shelter employees and volunteers if the dog you are considering meets your criteria or if they have a dog that does check off everything from your list.

If this is your first dog, you will want to dog-proof your home. You will want to get down to their eye level and check your home for any dangers they could get into. Things like loose power cords, any poisonous plants or household chemicals they could get to, you will want to be sure your trash is in a secured area, and be sure to have any food put away out of your dog’s reach as there are many different foods that you eat which could be poisonous to your dog. These are just a few things you would need to do to make your home safe for your new dog and there are many guides available online to help you dog-proof your home.

You will want to get all of the basic supplies your new dog will need. This would include food for them to eat, food and water bowls, and some small treats to help with training or to give them just as a special treat.

shelter dog looking through chain link fence

They will also need a crate for them to be in while you are not at home and to help with potty training. You will want to get a bed for them to feel comfortable, safe, and warm to sleep in while you are home. A dog brush to help remove any shedding or matting fur and to help make them feel comfortable being touched.

Get them a few toys for them to play with to keep them occupied. Having dog toys available will help your dog in reducing stress. You will need to get them a collar, an id tag with your contact information, also consider getting a harness and a leash so you can take them outside for walks around the neighborhood.

Over time you will find other things you will want to get your dog such as more toys, after all this is your fur baby, and you will want to spoil them. You can even find doggie cameras to keep an eye on them while you are out of the house and GPS trackers which are especially good to get if you have an escape artist on your hands.

Your dog is going to be a member of your family, so it is important that they have had some sort of comprehensive obedience training and there is a good possibility that they already have. However, if the dog has not been trained, you should consider getting some basic positive reinforcement training organized for them to learn so that both you and the dog will know what to do.

Dog training would consist of the following basic commands. Recall or come training to teach the dog to come to you. Sit training to keep your dog in one spot and focused on you. Training them to stay will teach your dog not to wander off. Down or Lay Down training will help with keeping in control of your dog’s behavior. And walking at the heel training will teach your dog to stay next to you while walking with a loose leash.

You will want to find a veterinarian in your neighborhood preferably before or at least as soon as you bring your adopted dog home and establish a relationship with them. They will do a basic examination of your new dog and keep track of your dog’s overall health conditions.

You can check with friends and family members if they can recommend a vet to you. If they are not able to, you can always check with the shelter staff if they have any recommendations of a good vet nearby where you live.

human touching paw of dog in animal shelter

How Can You Tell If A Rescue Dog Is Happy?

While dogs do not necessarily show emotions like happy or sad, you can tell when they are feeling comfortable, and start to trust their surroundings to settle in. At first, when you bring your newly adopted dog home, your house will be strange for them, and adjusting to this new life of theirs, will take a bit of time. There are a few things you can do to help with the transition of your rescue pup to its new environment.

If you have other pets at home, take things slow initially, and gradually introduce your pup to the other animals in your home, such as the cat or another dog. You will want both animals to feel comfortable with each other before your new dog starts to take over your current pet’s territory.

You will want to keep them in their crate at night to give them a safe secure area where they can call their own. By doing this it will help your new dog with any separation anxiety they may have and help reduce their stress level in their new environment.

Most of all, make sure that you spend as much time as possible bonding with your dog by paying attention to and interacting with them. You will want to keep working on this new relationship and build trust between you and your dog. They will soon settle down and be comfortable in their new home.

How Long Does It Take For A Rescue Dog To Bond?

While each dog’s personality is different, given enough time and positive social interaction, your adopted rescue dog will start to bond with you. You will notice that your dog is bonding with you, gazing into your eyes and following you around, the more you actively interact with them and as they start to feel comfortable in their new home.

If you can, try to take a couple of days off from work or school when you first bring your dog home. You will want to use these first few days to spend as much time as possible with your dog and help them adjust. Keep things as simple as possible though as to not stress your dog any more than they need to, especially since it is a new environment for them. If they seem unsure about something or some area, let them explore it on their own.

You can improve that bond between you and your dog by just doing simple things such as giving your full attention and playing with them when your home, training them a new trick to do, or even by just taking the time to talk to and groom your dog.


When you go to the animal shelter to select your rescue dog have your list of requirements and any questions you may have available with you, as you do not want to choose a dog that does not fit the needs of you and your family. Be prepared to commit to the responsibility and care of pet ownership and become a lifelong friend. Once you have your adopted dog at home, give them time to adjust to their new living situation. A good thing to remember about adopting rescue dogs is those who can go out and adopt a dog will have given them not only a new home but a new lease on life with their new family.

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