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Adopting a Rescue Dog
We all like the idea of adopting a dog from a rescue group. It is our chance to give a dog a second chance at a good life. While adopting a rescue dog can give a great sense of satisfaction, a random or ill-considered choice can result unhappiness for you and the dog. Here is a checklist of some things to consider.
Why do you want to adopt a rescue? What are you looking for? Are you looking for an immediate cuddly companion? Are you looking to save a dog that has had a difficult beginning and will need some work? Your answers to these questions will determine the type of dog you are looking for. Remember, when you adopt a pet, you are making a commitment to that dog for the rest of its life.
Getting a pet, or adding another pet, will affect other aspects of your life. Your dog’s wellbeing will need to be considered while you are at work, travel, or go out for social events. Most dogs typically require 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. And while most dogs are okay being home alone for a short period of time, dogs are social creatures and may develop bad habits if left home alone for long periods of time. Before adopting a pet, make sure it will fit into your lifestyle.
Many shelters and rescue groups try to assess health issues before a dog is adopted. Be certain to ask about veterinary exams, fecal and heartworm tests, vaccinations and behavioral issues. Get copies of everything that was done to show to your veterinarian at his first visit.
Meet and Greet
Ideally, you will want to adopt a dog you have met and have had a chance to interact with. Some rescue dogs can have personality or behavior issues that will not be apparent from a picture or a description online. Remember an online description, like a real estate ad, is always going to present the dog in the best light. If you are adopting a dog from another state, try to speak with someone from the shelter or rescue group that has had direct interaction with the dog you are interested in. Ask if the dog has been temperament tested by someone competent to do testing. Keep the dog’s situation in mind, realizing he has been abandoned and may be anxious at the shelter. Removing him from the shelter run to an outdoor run or a large room may ease his anxiety. When meeting your potential adoptee here are some recommended exercises to try:
- Walk purposefully through the shelter and take note of any dog that favorably attracts your attention. Avoid dogs that growl, snarl, or avoid you. Use the “hand test” to determine the animal’s friendliness or aggression. Eliminate dogs that ignore you, lunge at you, or retreat from you.
- Ask to interact one-on-one with each remaining candidate. Sit quietly without paying attention to the dog. A good candidate will try to get your attention with gentle nudging. When petting the dog, he should move towards you. If a dog responds with mouthiness, it could be a precursor to biting and may not be the dog for you.
- Ask to feed the animal or give the dog a treat. When feeding, carefully pet the dog to gauge his response. Positive responses include cessation of eating in preference to your attention or continued eating with tail wagging. If giving a treat, slowly reach your hand towards it to gauge the dog’s resource-guarding response.
- Take out a toy and engage the dog in play. He should play without aggression and calm down within a few minutes of stopping.
- Take the dog for a walk. Be wary of dogs that are aggressive towards other people or animals.
- Upon returning the dog to its kennel, observe it from a distance. Note how it reacts to other visitors, particularly those with children if you have them.
Meet and Greet Round 2
Once you have decided on a dog, make certain everyone in the family goes to meet him. Everyone in the family needs to be comfortable with the dog and vice versa. Some dogs are not always comfortable around young children.
Preparing for your new dog’s arrival
Make certain you have everything to welcome your new dog home. You will want to have all the following ahead of time to help them feel safe and at home:
- Bowls for water and food
- Dog Food for their appropriate age and activity level.
- Collar, leash, and harness
- ID tag with your phone number
- Hard plastic carrier or foldable metal crate
- Dog bed
- Doggy shampoo and conditioner
- Nail clippers
- Canine toothbrush and toothpaste
- Brush or comb (depends on your dog’s coat length and type)
- Super-absorbent paper towels
- Sponge and scrub brush
- Non-toxic cleanser
- Enzymatic odor neutralizer
- Plastic poop baggies (biodegradable ones are best) or pooper scooper
- Absorbent house-training pads
- Variety of toys (a ball, rope, chew toy and puzzle toy are good starts)
- Variety of treats (such as small biscuits, larger rawhides, etc.)
- First-aid supplies
- Baby gate
You and your family will be excited to get your new dog home. Adjusting to their new surroundings will take time. Check out article to help the transition as you bring this new member of the family home.