When you choose a rescue dog for the first time, it's easy to make the decision with your heart, not your head. It can be heart wrenching watching the dogs waiting patiently for that one special person to come along and adopt them. But there's a practical side to consider, too.
Pick a rescue dog suited to you
While you might see a pup that makes your heart skip a beat, it’s important that you consider functional factors, such as the size of the dog compared to the size of your living space, how often they need walking versus your daily routine.
Just as letting a partner move in is a big decision, it’s vital to make sure you’re ready for the commitment of welcoming a dog into your home, as it’s not an easy choice to take back. A Dogs Trust survey revealed that more than 47,000 owners have abandoned their dogs over the last year, so it’s important to thoroughly consider the consequences of adopting a pet, so that you don’t add to these numbers.
Many rehoming centres carry out detailed assessments that can help give a better idea of temperament, possessiveness over food, and other potential issues, so you can get a handle on how compatible you are with your canine in advance. House-training, destructive tendencies, separation anxiety and a lack of socialisation can all be potential issues for rescue dogs. It’s important that you bear these factors in mind and consider what action you will take if any of these problems do arise.
Do your research
It’s worth getting as much information as you can from the shelter about your hound’s history, from the utterly functional (vet records, inoculations, age) to the more personal (personality, favourite treats, and habits).
Ideally you’ll know the exact breed of your rescue dog, in particular if you have a cross-breed that might be hard to pinpoint down the line.
It’s essential to ask about pre-existing medical conditions as these could prove costly down the line. It's also worth noting that an animal shelter might not be aware of medical conditions, so it makes sense to schedule a vet visit to double check.
This kind of functional information could be vital when it comes to getting pet insurance. There’s no NHS for pets, so if you want to protect your dog’s health and save yourself from rising vet bills, then getting insured is the answer.
Some shelters offer dogs with insurance, but make sure that this cover is comprehensive enough for your pet's individual needs.
Settling your rescue dog in at home
When you finally arrive home with your new dog, it's important to follow these handy steps so you pet thrives in his or her new environment…
• Don't constantly stroke or pet your new dog
They should 'work' for attention as this helps to build the bond between you. Overstimulation can inadvertently cause stress and anxiety in your pet.
• Give your dog some ‘neutral time’
That means limited visits from guests and minimal trips to other places. Let your new friend feel comfortable in his own environment first before introducing him to new ones.
• Be consistent in your behaviour
Agree house rules with the rest of the family so the dog isn't being sent conflicting messages. For example, is he allowed on the sofa or isn't he?
Have you just brought home a rescue dog? Make sure you get a pet insurance quote to protect your new best friend.