There are thousands of dogs waiting for homes in rescue centres across the country. Many rescue centres are becoming full and have to run dogs away. By getting a rescue dog you are creating space for another dog to get help. Many are denied a second chance because people prefer to get a puppy.
Having a rescue dog may sometimes be a challenge but it is extremely rewarding. The bond you have with a rescue dog is very special because you have given them a home and helped guide them through their issues. It’s important to remember that not all rescue dogs are difficult, some have to be rehomed through no fault of their own and are well trained.
You get a sense of achievement when you have a rescue dog, especially when you start to see improvements and how happy your dog is in their new home. For some dogs who have had a terrible start to life you are giving them a new lease of life. They may have had bad experiences of humans and need to rebuild their trust.
Buying a puppy can also be very expensive, with some breeds costing over £1000. Some rescue dogs are free but often you will have to pay a small fee to cover their costs to the rescue centre. This is usually between £80 and £200, far less than the cost of a puppy. It’s also hard work bringing up a puppy. They require a lot of attention, can’t be left for long and need toilet training. Most adult rescue dogs will be house trained and have basic training. With a puppy this has to be done from scratch.
Things to think about
Rescue dogs aren’t right for everyone. You need to think about the type of dog you are able to take on. Do you have the time to help train a dog with a few issues or do you need a dog that has basic training? Don’t get a rescue dog, or any dog if you work full time and no one will be at home during the day. It just isn’t fair to the dog.
If you live in rented accommodation you will need to check that you landlord allows dogs first. If you own your house then it should be suitable for a dog. Most rescue centres won’t allow dogs to go to home without enclosed gardens.
Getting a rescue dog is a big commitment, some can live up to 20 years so you need to make sure your entire household is on board. Get everyone to meet the dog before you bring them home so that you know you are making the right decision. Some rescue dogs get passed from home to home and the last thing they want is for another person to give up on them.
Some rescue dogs certainly aren’t perfect. Don’t get a rescue dog if you want your house to look like a show home. They may take a while to settle into their new home and could potentially damage your home.
Finding a good rescue centre
With so many rescue centres it can be difficult to choose the right one. It’s important to find a reputable rescue centre that will support you through your journey of taking on a rescue dog. There’s the major dog charities such as The Dog’s Trust, Battersea, The RSPCA and The Blue Cross as well as many other smaller rescue centres. Most rescue centres will only re home within the local area so it’s best to look for centres near you rather than the other end of the country. Most reputable rescue centres will:
- Vaccinate their dogs
- Ensure that dogs are safe for rehoming
- Neuter/spay dogs or insist you get it done
- Carry out a home check
- Ask about your circumstances
- Provide guidance and support, even after you take your new dog home
Questions the rescue centre will ask
When you apply for a dog the rescue centre will ask you a few questions to check you are in a position to take on a dog. They will ask what sort of dog you are looking for, for example large or small, short or long haired and active or less active. When you go to get a rescue dog try not to be influenced by looks and breed, it’s a dog’s character that is most important.
They will also ask whether you have an enclosed garden. This is essential so that your dog doesn’t escape but also because they need an outdoor area where they can exercise. For certain breeds of dogs such as huskies who can jump really high your fence may need to be over a certain height.
The rescue centre will also ask you about your lifestyle. Dogs cannot be left on their own for longer than three or four hours. If your work full time and no one is around to look after the dog they won’t allow you to re home a rescue dog.
In some cases the rescue centre will require you to have experience of a certain breed if you want to take a challenging dog home. Knowing the traits and how to deal with a particular breed really does help.
You will also be asked whether you have children. This is because some dogs are not able to live with children. For example, a very bouncy, boisterous dog cannot be re homed with young kids as they could accidentally knock them over and hurt them. If you have children you need to find a suitable dog for your family.
The rescue centre will talk to you about what age of dog you are looking for. Don’t rule out getting an older dog as they can make excellent companions and are far less work.
If you are going on holiday consider applying for a rescue dog after you return. Most rescue centres will be reluctant to re home a dog if they know you are going away.
Bringing your rescue dog home
Bringing a rescue dog home can be very exciting but also a little daunting. For them, it’s another change in their routine and an unfamiliar environment. Bare in mind it will take them some time to settle. It’s best to be prepared with everything they might need such as dog food, a dog bed, a collar and lead, toys and dog bowls. You will also need to make sure they are safely restrained in your car when you bring them home from the centre, so get a car harness, seat belt or crate.
The best thing you can do for your new rescue dog is get them into a routine so that they can begin to know what is expected of them. Provide them with a warm and cosy place to sleep at night and feed them at roughly the same times. Be patient, they will be a little overwhelmed at first. You need to allow time for them to bond with you, once your bond becomes stronger they will be much more receptive to training.
You might want to take them to a few training classes, this not only improves their behaviour it also helps to strengthen your relationship. If it’s safe to do so, take them out on walks where they can socialise with other dogs and people.
Remember to keep their training consistent and make sure everyone in your household sticks to the same rules.