Adopting a Rescue Dog: A Complete Guide

Welcome to this complete guide to adopting a rescue dog. You will learn everything you need to know about adopting a dog from a shelter. 

Congratulations on deciding to give a rescue dog a home. Two of my dogs are rescue dogs. One was rescued as a puppy and the other I adopted when she was about 3 years old.

Table of Contents

Below is some information to consider when bringing home your new dog.

Also, we’ll discuss the steps for adopting a dog from the shelter and questions to ask the rescuers and the shelters.

A Complete Guide to Shelter Dog Adoption

Adopting a rescue dog

1. Are you ready for a dog?

What qualities do you seek in a dog?

Rescue dogs should not be considered a product that must satisfy specific criteria. (I don’t mean stuff like coat color or gender.)

When you visit a shelter, things can quickly get emotional. This is why it’s important to know ahead of time what kind of temperament and exercise needs you can handle with your future dog. Do not get a high-energy dog if you don’t live an active lifestyle.

And you don’t want to end up returning the shelter dog you adopt because it doesn’t meet your lifestyle requirements, which also contradicts the purpose of having an adopted dog in the first place.

So, knowing your family’s lifestyle needs is vital in order for the staff to find a selection of dogs that can meet your requirements.

Every home is different.

However, keep the following in mind:

2. Does a dog fit into your lifestyle?

Let’s face it, some of us aren’t suited for owning a pet, let alone adopting one from a shelter.

We are too occupied with our own lives or simply incapable of giving a dog the exercise they need. Some dogs end up with behavioral issues if they don’t get enough exercise.

Consider short-term dog fostering if a dog doesn’t fit into your lifestyle.

A Complete Guide to Shelter Dog Adoption

3. Do you have time for a dog?

You need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself do you have enough time to devote to a dog’s emotional needs and exercise needs. Dogs do not handle it well if you are always traveling and they are being left at a boarding facility.

Do you have young children that consume all of your time? This might not be the best time to adopt a dog. It might be better for you to wait until your children are older.

4. Can you afford a dog?

The initial adoption fee may be low, but the materials you’ll need to keep your dog in good health are costly.

You will spend a few hundred dollars a month on dog food. You will also need a crate, a bed, a brush, a leash and collar, and other necessities. If your dog needs monthly grooming you need to budget for that too.

Investing in dog obedience training is always a good idea.

5. Is your home appropriate for a dog?

If you wish to adopt a shelter dog, you should also consider the size and type of home you live in. 

  • Is there a fence around your yard to keep the dog from getting outside?
  • Is there somewhere inside your house where they won’t be bothered if you have visitors?
  • Is there a pet policy in the apartment complex you’re renting?
  • If you live in an apartment are you willing to take your dog on like 6 walks a day so they can relieve themselves? 

Remember that your dog will spend most of their life in your home. As a result, evaluating your living status is crucial. Do not get a large dog that can’t handle apartment living.

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Is there anyone in your house who is allergic to dogs?

This is a deal-breaker because you can’t just get a pet and put the other person’s life in danger.

Is everyone in the home open to the thought of having a dog?

You should also question everyone’s feelings about adopting a dog and inquire if they have allergies.

They may be apprehensive about having a dog at home or fearful of dogs, so it’s important to “ask.”

Will your other pets get along with a new dog?

Don’t assume your other dog will get along with another dog. If you have a cat, will it handle having a dog in the home?

4 Steps to Adopting a Rescue Dog and Bringing It Home

If you’re thinking of getting a dog, there are four stages you should be aware of.

These include picking the correct breed, going through the adoption procedure, preparing for your dog’s arrival, and introducing your dog to your household. 

1. Selecting the Correct Breed

So, how do you decide which breed is best for you? Do you rely exclusively on their appearance?

Take a look at these suggestions:

  • Making a checklist of the traits and characteristics you wish to see in a dog.
  • Once you’ve completed a checklist based on temperament, traits, characteristics, or age, you can reduce your choices to the most important ones.
  • As I previously stated, it is critical to hear the opinion of your family members if you live with them. They may have allergies that you are unaware of, so choose an essentially hypoallergenic breed.

2. Adoption Procedures

After you’ve decided on the type of temperament, the next step is to look for rescues or shelters where you can apply for adoption.

Here’s how to find one and the steps you’ll need to do to get accepted.

  • Look for dog rescues and pet adoption websites in your area. If you’re ready to adopt a dog, your state has local dog rescues that you can contact.
  • The easiest thing is submitting an application. You can fill out an application form on the rescue’s website and wait for a response. I recommend that you answer in-depth so that they get the impression that you are well-prepared to adopt.
  • Once you’ve been approved as an adopter, the shelter will ask you to prepare a list of needs that you must submit within a certain amount of time. It would be preferable if you researched these documents ahead of time to not waste time filling them out.
  • If all goes well, you’ll be able to spend time inside the facility with your adopted dog. Of course, this is done with the help of a shelter or rescue team. Take advantage of this opportunity to get to know your dog since you might learn something that will change your mind.

3. Prepare for the Dog’s Arrival

Adopting a dog entails more than just filling out papers and paying costs. After your adoption request is approved, the actual work begins.

Here are some helpful hints for getting prepared for your dog’s arrival.

  • Look into the dog’s past.
  • Learn about obedience and housetraining.
  • Locate a reputable veterinarian.
  • Make your home dog-proof.
  • Purchase essential pet food, leash, dog bed, toys, and grooming supplies.
A Complete Guide to Shelter Dog Adoption

Here are some questions to ask rescues and shelters when adopting a dog:

  • How did this dog wind up in the care of your organization?
  • Is there a history of cruelty with this dog?
  • Has it been saved or surrendered for a long time?
  • What is the age of this dog?
  • Is this dog neutered or spayed?
  • Is this dog up to date on their vaccinations?
  • Is this dog good with children and strangers?
  • What is the current dog food for this dog? Is he a fussy eater?
  • Does this dog go through any kind of training?
  • Is this a housetrained dog?
  • Any health issues?

4. Introduction to Your Home

The following suggestions are critical to your adopted dog’s successful transition to your household.

Because most pet owners are too focused on getting approved, they overlook this phase of the adoption procedure, so here it is.

Adopting a rescue dog the first seven days

Day 1: This is an excellent time to begin housetraining. Show your dog the spot where they can relieve themself.

On the first day, just stay calm and quiet around him to get used to each other. Being overly enthusiastic about their presence may cause them to react unexpectedly.

You should not yet introduce your dog to strangers. Permit them to adjust to their new surroundings initially.

Follow the rescue or shelter’s feeding schedule. Don’t change your dog’s diet right away since this will cause gastrointestinal distress.

Day 2: Give your dog boundaries. Start teaching yes and no.

Day 3-7: Keep bonding with them and training them with treats. Teach them important commands like leave it, no, quiet, etc.

A Complete Guide to Shelter Dog Adoption

Days and weeks that follow

  • Keep track of when your dog eats, plays, and goes to the bathroom. This will help you and your new dog create expectations for one another.
  • When you take your dog to dog parks or training programs, pay attention to their body language. If they are overly scared or appear to be a bully, they may require behavior adjustment.
  • When instructing or correcting their conduct, use positive reinforcement.

Although these are common strategies for home introduction, each dog is different and may require more attention.

Always keep your dog’s needs in mind when making decisions.

Hopefully, this complete guide to shelter dog adoption gave you a few insights into the world of dog rescuing and sheltering.

There will be ups and downs to owning any pet. Shelter dog adoption is not suitable for everyone.

Those willing to do the research in advance and take the time to find out if it’s right for them can reap the rewards of having a dog they care deeply about.

Adopting a shelter dog can be one of the most fulfilling things you ever do.

You are giving an animal a loving home, and in return, you will receive endless love and companionship.

Please consider adopting a shelter dog the next time you are looking for a new pet. Thank you for reading!

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