If you’ve taken the decision to adopt a dog from one of the many rescue centres in the UK – first of all, well done! You are giving a dog a wonderful opportunity of a new, happy life. They will be forever grateful and will love you unconditionally, more so perhaps if they have previously been ill-treated or neglected in the past.
But taking the decision to adopt a dog leads naturally to the next step: choosing from all the rescue dogs for adoption that you’ll see in the shelter. How on earth do you decide which one(s) to take home and which ones to leave?
It will be a hard choice to make, but you need to be realistic about what sort of dog you can care for properly. That might mean that certain breeds or temperaments have to be discounted from the pool of potential pets.
If you have a dog already, think about how they will react to a new dog; perhaps take them along to the shelter to get an idea of how your existing dog and the new dog(s) interact. You should bring everyone who lives with you along to meet the dogs available so that you can all be sure of getting along when your dog comes home with you.
Make sure you choose a dog that you have space to accommodate properly: if you own acres of land then getting two Great Danes would be fine, but if you live in a flat with not much space then perhaps a lapdog would be more appropriate.
Before you commit to choosing any dog, you need to be sure that you will have enough time to care for them and spend time with them, and you need to make sure that you have arrangements in place to have your dog(s) cared for when you go on holiday. Again, these issues might be more tricky with certain breeds than with others (if you’re opting for a pit bull, for instance, the elderly lady next door might be less willing to feed and walk your dog than if you own a spaniel).
If any of your family has allergies to certain types of hair, make sure that the dog you choose will not pose this sort of problem, or you’ll end up having to bring the dog back to the shelter very shortly. You may not always be aware of allergies until your dog comes home – so always get the whole family involved in the choice and spend time with the dog at the shelter to check whether anyone has any adverse reactions.
Choose a dog that will fit with your lifestyle. If you like nothing more than hiking up and down hills all day then opt for a dog that needs a lot of exercise; if you prefer staying indoors and would only be able to give your dog short walks then choose a dog of a breed and temperament that would suit that lifestyle.
Decide whether you want a puppy or a dog. A puppy can be trained however you want it to be trained so you can help to formulate its personality. However, all that takes time and you might want to choose an adult dog with a nice temperament so that you know exactly what you’re getting and don’t have to spend time toilet-training it or teaching it to sit on command. Puppies also need more energetic levels of care and attention, and they can do quite a bit of damage to a home in the early days.
If you do a lot of travelling and would want your dog to come with you, ask the rescue centre staff which dogs would be most able to travel (some might be known to get travel sick or distressed in vehicles, for instance).
Claire Simon is a pet expert and dog lover. Loves to write around pets and pet care.
Could you add another link:
rescue centres: http://www.rspca.org.uk/in-action/whatwedo/rescue