Thinking of rescuing a dog? Here are 5 ways to make the process a win-win all around.

Lolly foster

By Paulette Solinski, CPDT-KA

So you’re thinking of rescuing a dog. That is a wonderful idea, but here are some things that may help you with the process.

Do your homework. The most common way to find a dog these days is via the internet. It’s pretty easy to focus on a picture of an adorable dog and go to the shelter planning to take her home. It’s not usually that simple. You want to learn as much as possible about the dog, so be prepared to ask a lot of questions. For example, does this dog have a bite history? Why is she in the shelter? Does she have any known health problems?  These may or may not disqualify a dog in your eyes, but you will be more prepared for what you are getting. (However, it’s never a good idea to get a reactive dog when you have children). If you have time and are a single person or a childless couple you may be interested in a dog who might be more of a project. If you’re looking for a dog that’s had some training, keep looking and wait for her to come along.

Keep an open mind. Sometimes just looking at dogs in person in shelters can help you find your dog soul mate. While you may have practical considerations – maybe your apartment building doesn’t allow dogs over a certain size – be as flexible as possible. You may go in looking for a puppy who is female and white and fluffy but walk out with a 30 pound male beagle mix because when you looked at him he gave you that special look and stole your heart.

Have everyone in the family meet the potential pet, especially the dog currently living with you. Once you have found a dog that you think is suitable for your family, make sure everyone who lives in the house comes together to visit. It’s very important to see how your new dog will interact with the whole family. For dog to dog meetings, someone at the shelter should help you with the introductions, and tell you what to watch for. You want the process to be as peaceful as possible.

Be patient. Once you adopt a dog it may take awhile for the dog to fully settle into your house. It’s estimated that a dog doesn’t become fully at home for about three months. It may take even longer if there’s has been a lot of disruption in the dog’s life. Don’t just open the door and expect perfection. You may have some issues with eliminating inside or chewing things. Your new dog just needs to be shown what to do, so start training your dog. Group classes can be really helpful.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes adoptions don’t work out. While this can be traumatizing for you, if it’s not working and you’ve given it your all, surrendering your dog may be the only solution. Reputable shelters will always accept a dog back, and just because it didn’t work out for you, that doesn’t mean the dog isn’t a great fit for someone else.


What’s it like when you hit the rescue dog jackpot? Click here to find out. 





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