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March 2023

10 Questions to Ask Before Adopting a Rescue Dog


This National Pet Adoption Month, we’re encouraging you to Adopt Different and take a pet into your home that you perhaps wouldn’t have first considered. Pets bring big love – but they also bring big responsibility. While every pet should have a home, every home isn’t suitable for a pet. Are you ready to adopt a rescue pet? Consider our questions to find out!

Question 1: Am I Prepared For The Commitment Of A Dog?

Dogs are a big commitment! While you may be ready for a furry friend, you also need to be ready for the full responsibility of pet parenthood. This means having the time for daily enrichment, playtime, and walks. You also need to have a stable environment, that you don’t believe will change drastically for the duration of the dog’s life. A lot of dogs are surrendered simply because circumstances change – so it’s an important factor to consider before adopting!

Question 2: What Dog Would Suit My Lifestyle?

There is no one size fits all for this question – so it’s important to consider your lifestyle and be realistic about what you can offer. You might love a certain breed or fall for a specific dog at a shelter – but if you’ve got to work in the office full time for example, it’s unwise to adopt a dog with separation anxiety unless you can bring them into the office with you.

Things to consider when choosing a rescue dog include:

  • The size of your home
  • Whether your home has a backyard or outdoor access
  • Your work schedule, or your commitments which require you to be away from home.
  • Do you travel often? If you do, do kennel or pet-sitting costs fit into your budget?
  • What is your budget?

These factors will inform your decision as to what dog will suit your lifestyle. Remember that if your circumstances mean you shouldn’t adopt a certain dog, it doesn’t mean another one won’t be right for you. While it would be challenging to have a border collie in an apartment with no outdoor access – a small or senior dog might be fine in this environment. Keep an open mind when choosing to adopt and opt for a pet that suits the lifestyle you already live.

Question 3: Can I Afford A Dog? How Much Do Dogs Cost?

Dogs aren’t inexpensive – and it’s important to realise that the cost of having a dog far exceeds the adoption fee.

While there isn’t one set fee, you should expect to fork out for the necessities such as:

  • adoption fees (this varies from as little as $50 to over a thousand depending on the shelter and the dog)
  • vaccinations (including annual recurring costs)
  • vet check-ups (annually at a minimum)
  • food costs
  • vet costs (don’t forget to factor in budget for emergencies, or consider pet insurance)
  • grooming costs (this can get expensive depending on the breed and grooming requirements)
  • cost of supplies
    Make sure you’ve factored in all the above when assessing if you can afford a dog.
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Question 4: Why Was The Dog Surrendered?

There are a lot of reasons dogs find themselves without a home – and each dog’s story provides insight into their life previously and might be relevant to your suitability as their new owner: if you have children and a dog was surrendered because it is nervous around children it probably isn’t the best fit for you. But conversely, a dog that was surrendered because it was too high energy for its first home might be the perfect fit for an active family. There are no right or wrong answers – but finding out why a dog was surrendered will help ensure it won’t be surrendered again for the same reasons.

Question 5: Does This Dog Have Ongoing Health Concerns?

Some rescue dogs were surrendered because they have ongoing health issues which their previous owners could no longer afford to maintain. This shouldn’t prevent them from living a lovely life with a new family (they’ll repay you in love many times over) but it is something to assess from a financial perspective to ensure you’re prepared for the potential the costs ahead. A dog that requires frequent vet visits also wouldn’t be suited to living in a remote area if it’s a significant distance from vet care – so make sure you’re able to provide a dog the care it needs if it has health concerns.

Question 6: What Personality Does The Dog Have?

A benefit to opting for a rescue dog rather than buying from the breeder is you’ll have a better understanding of the dog’s personality – as even though the breed can give you some indication, every dog is unique, and personalities can differ extensively even in the same breed or litter. If you’re interested in a rescue dog, ask the team at the rescue shelter about the dog’s traits and this will help you determine if you’re a good match for them. If you lead an active lifestyle, you might be better suited to the goofball who has always got a ball in their mouth – whereas if you like the quiet life the gentle senior dog might be a better fit for you. Remember it’s not about finding the ‘right’ dog – it’s about finding the right match for you.

Question 7: Does The Dog Get Along With Other People?

It’s important to understand if a dog is properly socialised – if they aren’t you will need to commit to teaching them social skills. Anxiety and nervousness are not uncommon in dogs from shelters and breeders alike – but if you have children or live in busy share house an anxious dog might not be the right fit for you. Conversely, if you come from an adult-only household and can commit to easing your new dog out of their shell you could save a life and gain a best friend in the process.

Question 8: Does this dog get along with other pets?

Just as some dogs may be nervous or anxious around people, others don’t do well with other animals. This is of particular importance if you already have a pet, but it can be a problem for human-only households as well. For example, if you live in a busy city area you might not be able to comfortably exercise your prospective rescue pet without encountering other dogs.

Dogs that don’t get along with other pets require counter-conditioning training to improve their social skills. If you have the time for this, you’re in for a rewarding new companion – but make sure you have the time and confidence to undertake this training.

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Question 9: Does This Dog Have Behavioural Issues?

A lot of dogs – rescues or not – have some level of behavioural issues. This could be minor, like jumping on people when they’re excited, or more serious, like aggression or resource guarding. Every dog has their quirks, and ideally, we shouldn’t discount a dog on the basis that it requires additional training – but having a full understand of the training required will better prepare you for your life with your new pet.

Question 10: What if it Doesn’t Work Out?

It’s heartbreaking to ask about a possible end before things have even begun – but reputable shelters and foster pet parents should have systems in place to take dogs back if their new home isn’t working out. Make sure you’ve done your due diligence when adopting a rescue pet.

Don’t forget it’s not about finding the perfect dog – it’s about finding the perfect dog for you. This National Pet Adopting Month, we’re urging you to adopt different – dig deep and consider all you’ve got to offer. Perhaps the dog you overlooked at first could be just right after all.

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