Your Guide to Adopting a Dog From a Rescue Shelter

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Your Guide to Adopting a Dog From a Rescue Shelter

by Ryan OMeara

Firstly, yourself and your family should make a decision on what type and age of dog you would like to bring in to your home. This is not a decision to be made lightly and should be taken under advisement from experienced dog owners or, indeed, the shelter where you are intending to acquire your dog from. Dog shelters, quite rightly vet prospective owners to make sure that they have all the suitable credentials and facilities to care for a dog.

By taking some advise from a friend or suitably qualified professional who has good experience of dog ownership and all that it entails will show the shelter that you are truly committed to caring for the animal you are about to take home. Very often rescue dogs spend a long time being re-homed and re-sheltered because their new owners did not plan properly for their arrival or did not look into the type of dog that was going to be suitable for their lifestyle.

Make a decision on the size of dog you are looking for. Larger dogs are often more energetic and require more exercise, they are sometimes easier to train and they obviously will take up more room in the household. Their feeding requirements are greater and they usually need plenty of early training to build a good bond between dog and owner and to prevent any potential behaviour problems such as pulling on the lead or aggression toward other dogs.

Smaller dogs are less costly to feed, don't need as much physical stimulation and are less prone to pulling on a lead or running away from the household. There are obviously exceptions to the rules but generally you can make an educated decision on the size of dog that will fit in best with your lifestyles and household.

You will need to establish exactly why it is that you want a dog in the first place. The idea of bringing a new dog into the home is often more appealing than the reality. The novelty of owning a dog should NEVER EVER wear off in the same way that the novelty of a new born child should last forever. Your dog will never get to an age when it can care for itself, move out and start a family of its own.

You will be entirely responsible for the creature you are about to bring into your lives forever. The dog will depend on you for its every need - that is a very important responsibility. Make absolutely sure that you know why you want a dog and that you fully understand the importance of caring for it every single day of its life.

When you have established the size and character of the dog that will be best suited to you, contact a local shelter and explain your situation. Ask if it is possible to take a look at some of the dogs they have. It may be, that they tell you they have a perfect dog to suit your requirements once you have explained to them what you are looking for. Take the advice of the shelter staff.

They have the very best interests of the dog in mind. They need to make sure that the dog you take will stay with you forever and so they are therefore qualified to tell you if a dog is or isn't going to fit in with you. On your first trip to a shelter it is always a good rule of thumb to make sure everyone who is going to see the dogs (especially children) is made fully aware that you will not be bringing a dog home that day. It may just be that there is not a particularly ideal dog available at that time and leaving all those other adorable dogs behind is often very hard for anyone. Remember, if you are getting a puppy, you must know what size and shape it will become in little over 12 months time.

What sort of character it will have and if possible if it is not a pedigree dog, what breeds have combined to produce the pup. Cross bred dogs are great! They are very often healthier and happier than some extremely well breed pedigree dogs but you must have some idea, if you are a novice dog owner, what you are letting yourself in for. An 8 week old Boxer cross Collie will look just as small and adorable next to an 8 week old Cavalier King Charles but when they get to eight months old they will become two VERY different dogs and will require very different care and handling.

Ensure that once you have found 'The Right One' that you are prepared to accept him or her into your home. Shelter staff may already pay a visit to your home and will always be on hand to assist you but do prepare for the arrival of an animal that will be slightly bewildered, possibly very nervous and certainly not their usual self. Many a dog is returned to a shelter within days of re-homing because its new owners simply haven't catered for the dog behaving totally out of character in its new environment.

Your new dog may take a few days to settle in or even a few months but do make sure you give the animal a fair chance before making any quick decisions. This is a prime reason why a lot of older rescue dogs make great pets because they have usually lived in a house before, are house broken and are used to the very day hustle an bustle of a living household.

The sad fact is, a lot of these dogs never get the chance to be re-homed because they fall in favour to the cute, playful puppies. A puppy is ALWAYS an un-known quantity. Ask any top breeder and they will tell you they have a good idea how the pup will turn out but a lot depends on how it is cared for and how its character is developed by new owners. An older dog is much more of a 'safe bet'. What see is normally what you get.

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