Owning a Rescue Dog

Owning a "true" Rescue dog is not for the faint of heart. Of course, while we work with dogs prior to adopting them out and ensure, to the best of our ability, that they are safe to adopt out. A percentage of the work with each dog always needs to be completed by the person who will be having them in their house full time (ie. The Adopter). We can only assist so far in foster care and need the Adopter to ensure they stick to any guidelines we give them and create a loving, stable household for our rescue dogs.  

Nothing good comes easy, if you want a Rescue dog, you need to be willing to put in the effort required to make it a balanced, stable, family pet. It is often useful to consider WHY you want a rescue dog and if a rescue dog fits yours or your families' needs. Yes, it is a great feeling to adopt a Rescue a dog that needs a home - but they can certainly be much more work than the "blank-slate" of an 8 week old puppy at times. 

Many people often like the idea of adopting a Rescue dog as it makes them feel better rather than purchasing a dog from a Breeder. However, you do need to consider whether you are really, truly ready to commit to a dog that may need ongoing support, resources, socialization, training and your assistance. 

To be a successful owner of a Rescue dog you need to ensure you have:

  • Patience and understanding for the dog - Sometimes the dogs have been through a lot and may take a bit of time to come out of their shell and be comfortable. Don't overwhelm them by introducing them to family and friends within the first month or so. Remember - you are currently a stranger to them. Wait to introduce anyone who is not immediate family. They need to build a bond with you and be able to rely on you if they need support or comfort. Go at their pace. Take care not to over-stimulate dogs too early.

  • The ability to set (and stick to) boundaries, provide training and create routines - Dogs value routine, it makes them feel safe. Do not feel sorry for the dog, they will interpret this as weakness and it will lead to behavioral issues later on. Start as you mean to go on and ensure you have the time to devote to working with and training a dog! 

  • Think about WHY you want a dog and whether you have the time and financial means to devote to a dog - You cannot simply get a dog and then return to a full time working schedule and expect the dog to be content to wait for you at home. Bored dogs are destructive dogs and destructive dogs find themselves being re-surrendered. You need to have time to spend bonding with the dog and working with/training the dog. Financially, all pets are expensive - consider their daily, weekly, yearly costs and what happens if something goes wrong medically, you need to be able to commit to their care.

  • Understanding of dog knowledge, their body language and behaviors - This assists our Rescue dogs greatly as Adopters will know once the dog is uncomfortable and how to rectify this. Sometimes Adopters reinforce or support dogs in naughty behaviors then don't understand why the dogs don't listen or behave poorly! Usually the cause is human-driven.

  • The ability to be firm and fair - Do not feel sorry for dogs based on their past. You need to remember that now, they are safe and live a great life with you. Do not let them get away with anything you wouldn't allow a normal dog to do. Again, your dog needs to respect you and if it senses you feeling sad, guilty or sorry for it, it will feel you are weak and behavioral issues will arise. Dogs are like children, they need a careful mixture of love and boundaries.

  • The ability to commit, regardless of what it may involve - Be in it for the long haul or not at all! If you cannot see yourself committing to the dog for 12-20 years, please don't get one!  Also, be aware - Some rescue dogs can regress slightly, once placed, due to the fact that they are adapting to the change in household. Sometimes they even develop issues that we have not seen in foster care. Of course, we are always happy to work with Adopters and provide support and advice, but we need people who will commit to working with dogs through anything that may arise.