Five tips on how to choose your rescue dog
IF you've made the decision to adopt a rescue dog, first of all: congrats!
Welcoming a dog into your family - especially one who's in desperate need of a loving home - is a great thing you can do. But before you head to the shelter and pick out the cutest dog, we have some tips.
1. Talk to the staff
Most rescue shelter staff will work hard to find you your perfect match - they want you to find the right dog as much as you do.
Before you go, have a list of questions you'd like to ask, and a list of your personal preferences.
- Think about what you want from a dog. Quiet or loud? Active or relaxed? Young or older (keep in mind that older dogs might need less obedience and toilet training)? Small or large?
- Now think about the way you live. Are you picky about cleaning? Then perhaps a dog who sheds a lot won't be suitable for you. Do you work long hours? A dog who needs a lot of activity may not suit your lifestyle.
- Next, don't be afraid to ask questions of the staff. What's the dog's temperament? How does she act at mealtimes? What is he like around children, and other dogs?
2. Hire a trainer to help
This may sound OTT, but having a trainer with you as you choose a dog can really help you assess their behaviour and suitability for your home.
Observe the dog from a distance. How does she seem? Calm? Timid? Stressed? Get closer, standing sideways in front of the cage, without making eye contact or talking. Does she run to you, tail wagging? Does she charge aggressively? Does she slink to the back of the cage?
4. Go back a second time
If you've chosen a dog, don't take it home the first time you meet it.
If you can, see the dog on a few different occasions, at different times of the day, which will show you if the dog's behaviour changes radically throughout the day.
If you have children, bring them along with you so they can see how they interact with your new potential pup.
5. Take him, or her, for a test drive
Ask if you can take the dog for a walk - you'll get a much better idea of his energy levels, personality and temperament.
If the walk goes well, you could also try playing with the dog to see how they interact with you.