Choosing a rescue dog

What should you look for when choosing a rescue dog? What can you make/of the information which is available to you?

My first bit of advice when it comes to choosing a rescue dog is to take the information on the dog with a pinch of salt. Rescue homes work very hard on rehoming dogs into suitable environments but unfortunately there is some misinterpretation in the write up on the dogs available, as it is written from a human perspective. However, you can take the information available are reintrepret it to what it might mean in your environment. For instance:

Dog gets frustrated and bored when left.

A dog which is listed as getting bored or frustrated about being left is actually getting stressed about being left. It suffers from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be overcome and I have written many articles on this subject. It will take time though, so do not take on a dog which is described as one that can’t be left if you have a pristine house, or are out for hours every day, as you will regret it. However if you are choosing a rescue dog and have fallen in love with one that “can’t be left”… Don’t worry, it can. You just have some work to do first.

Dog would suit a home without children.

What does this mean…? Children are typically noisy, unpredictable and can be rebellious. So a dog which is described as not being suitable for a house with children is either an anxious dog, or a dominant dog. An anxious dog likes its space and doesn’t want to be prodded or pulled about. If you have well behaved children who can follow rules, then you CAN rescue this type of dog. You just need to make sure your children know to give the dog plenty of space, and not to go into his or her personal space, to invite them over instead. If the dog is more of a dominant, determined dog then it is likely to jump up at your children, which might frighten them. However if your children are quite strong and sturdy, and can ignore this sort of behaviour then you could make this work!  Again, you will need to start with it in mind that work is required.

Needs to be an only dog

This probably means that this dog got into fights with another dog it was previously living with. However this could be just as much the fault of the other dog. I have helped many families to stop their dogs from fighting, and learn to live in harmony. So again, this doesn’t mean you can’t take this dog on if you want another dog in the future. You will have to be prepared to do some work of course!

An energetic dog, needs lots of walks

This is the description which concerns me most. A dog which is described as energetic was probably hyperactive in the home it previously lived in. The common human interpretation of this behaviour is that the dog needs lots of exercise. Let me dispel that myth right now… The more you exercise a dog, the fitter it gets, so it will get better and better at being hyperactive at home! A hyperactive dog is stressed. It has a perspective that it is meant to be doing something, so keeps on like a headless chicken. An energetic dog is best suited to a CALM household where the people are prepared to spend time ignoring the dog. Giving it a chance to understand that it is allow to relax!

Whatever the information given about the dog, you don’t really know how it will behave until you have had him/her at home for a while, so you need to be prepared to put some leg work in. I can strongly recommend reading some more of the blogs on this site and having a read of “The Practical Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell.  If you want to read some more about dog behaviour myths click the link.  If you are in the process of rescuing a dog, and want to make sure you get things right, then please get in touch.  I am based in Essex, and cover the county and the surrounding areas.

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