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Is a Rescue Dog Right for You?

Ellison is a lifelong dog lover and a supporter of dog rescues. She has fostered 60-some dogs and loved every single one of them.



Should You Get a Rescue Dog?

Rescue pets are all the rage these days! There are rescues out there for every breed imaginable—from giant dogs to teeny-tiny lap dogs. There are so many homeless animals, so it is a great thing that so many rescues exist.

A rescue dog is not for everyone, though! Some of them have had bad experiences that affect their behavior. Often, you won't know anything about their background at all. Rescue dogs can have quirks and behavior issues that require time and patience.

Questions to Ask to Find Out if a Rescue Dog Is Right for You

  • Are you an experienced dog owner?
  • Do you have other pets?
  • What is your work schedule?
  • Do you have a fenced-in yard?
  • Do you have children in your home?
  • What breed are you looking for?
  • Are you committed to making it work?
  • Is everyone in the household on board?

Are You an Experienced Dog Owner?

Have you had dogs before, or is this your first dog ever? If it is your first dog, keep in mind that by rescuing a dog you might be taking on a challenge. Think about whether or not you will have the patience to deal with behavior issues that might arise. Also, will you have the means and time to take the dog to a trainer if you aren't able to handle it yourself?

If you have had dogs all your life, a rescue pet will probably be a piece of cake for you. If you are new to the world of owning dogs, you should take your time and look for an older dog, one that has been in foster care, maybe. That way, the foster can tell you as much as they know about the dog. Also, you will hopefully have the rescue/foster parents as a resource or support system if you have an issue.


Do You Have Other Pets?

If you already have other pets in the household, this should be taken into consideration as well. Depending on your pets, they may or may not be able to easily adjust to a new animal in the house.

Make sure if you chose a rescue dog and you already have pets, that you find out if the dog is compatible with other animals. If you have a dog, you could even introduce your dog to the potential new dog in a neutral environment and see if they seem compatible.

If you have a cat, make sure to ask the foster if the dog is accustomed to cats. Some dogs are great with cats, others not so much. It is better to know before bringing the dog home whether it will fit into your animal family. In order for the new dog to be happy, it needs to fit into your animal family comfortably, as well as your human family. It won't happen overnight, but if you do your research and adopt the right pet, in time, they should all be just fine together.

What Is Your Work Schedule?

A rescue dog may not be housebroken or crate trained. You may not be able to leave it alone for long periods of time. Do your work and lifestyle allow enough time for you to help acclimate a new dog? You can't just bring them home and not spend the time getting them acclimated and expect to have good results.


Do You Have a Fenced-In Yard?

A fenced-in yard is not a must-have. If you don't have one, though, do you have the time to walk the dog regularly? A dog that has exercised and used up its excess energy is a well-behaved dog. If you don't have a yard, do you have the time and commitment to give your new dog ample exercise?

Some rescues may actually require you to have a fenced-in yard in order to adopt from them. This is the sort of thing you would find out during the application process for adoption.


Do You Have Children in Your Home?

If you have children in your home, that adds another aspect to your dog choice. Try and find out if the dog has ever been around kids before. The foster or rescue may or may not know. Hopefully, they know enough about the dog's personality to say whether or not they would be safe with kids. If the rescue or foster is not sure how the dog will be around children, I wouldn't think that is the dog for your family.

Think of it this way, it is not just about the safety of your children, but of the dog's well-being as well. A dog that bites is not taken lightly these days. If you adopt a dog that then bites your child and you need to re-home him, the dog may be in danger of not finding a home or, even worse, being euthanized.

What Breed Are You Looking For?

If you are considering a certain breed of dog, do your research. Learn as much as you can about that breed and make sure it is compatible with your lifestyle.

We are all attracted to a certain look in a dog. We think they are the cutest breed ever, so we look to adopt one of them without considering if it will fit into our lifestyle.

Do your research, ask a lot of questions, and be honest with yourself about if your dream breed is really the right breed for you.

Are You Committed to Making It Work?

If you agree to adopt a rescue dog, you should be committed to making it work. Some rescue dogs have been through a lot, and it is not fair for you to make an impulsive decision to adopt just to change your mind a few weeks later when it's harder than you thought.

You should go into it knowing that it is going to take time and patience and be willing to do what it takes.

Is Everyone in the Household on Board?

Is everyone in the household wanting a rescue dog? A rescue dog is going to take time to learn to trust and respect everyone in the household. Everyone needs to be on the same page with this and willing to do what it takes to welcome and acclimate the dog to its new home.


Making the Decision

These are just a few questions you can ask yourself when considering adopting a rescue dog. There are many dogs out there looking for homes, and finding them the right home is the most important thing.

Take the time, do your research, and if you decide to look into a rescue dog, make sure you find a reputable rescue—a rescue that will be there as a resource and support network if you need advice.

Remember: Think long and hard. Every rescue dog deserves a home, but not every home deserves a rescue dog.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on February 17, 2019:

Thank you! Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

Francine Glasser from Kingston, NY on February 14, 2019:

Excellent points and issues relevant to being a responsible pet owner!

Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on February 13, 2019:

Thanks so much Layne. They most certainly are individuals and they all have different needs. They can't decide who their owners are so it is up to us to be responsible and chose the right pets for our families. I'm a dog lover, so it's just as much about the dog's happiness as it is mine! Thanks again for reading my article.

Laynie H from Bend, Oregon on February 13, 2019:

I love this article and I LOVE rescue dogs. Our current rescue dog is just the sweetest boy—he lives with two cats. He was formerly abused and I feel like every day he wakes up grateful. He just shows it! I like that you emphasize all of the important questions. Some rescue dogs require experienced owners, no kids, no other pets—there's nothing wrong with these dogs, they are just as unique as humans. We are all different. Nothing is worse than situations where an animal is returned to a shelter—it creates a cycle of anxiety and insecurity for the animal—which is why the questions you address are SO important.

Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on February 13, 2019:

My new little one, Ziva is doing great! We are on vacation right now in Florida. She loves car rides and the pool too! I remember reading about Nala, I'm glad she is doing well also! Thanks again for reading my article!

Juliette Jones from Vancouver Island, BC, Canada on February 13, 2019:

Hi Ellison

How is your new(ish) dog doing? I would love to have a dog, but apartment living doesn't really workout for the animal. I recently adopted a beautiful tabby named Nala (I wrote about her in my last hub) and I love her to bits!! Hope you are doing well.