Choosing a Rescue Dog

What to Look for When Choosing a Rescue Dog

There are a lot of unknowns when you adopt a rescue dog. You probably are unaware of the animal’s background and even if the shelter knows a little about the dog’s history, it might be questionable. 

Despite the uncertainty, adopting the right rescue dog makes a dramatic and positive impact on the animal’s life and your family dynamics. In this article, we will explore what to look for when choosing a rescue dog, so you don’t make a blind decision. 

Look Beyond Appearance

Many potential dog owners are focused on the pup’s appearance. However, looks are not everything when it comes to choosing a canine companion. A  dog is overly complex. Each one has its own distinct personality. When choosing the perfect shelter dog for your family, you need to consider personality and behavior. If the dog is well-behaved and loving, then physical appearance should not matter.

Puppy, Adult, or Senior?

Everyone loves a puppy, but does a young pup truly fit into your lifestyle? Puppies want to play and chew. They also require training and are a more in-depth time commitment. An adult dog or senior is probably already housetrained and might even have a firm grasp on general obedience. A senior dog knows the ropes and is far calmer than a younger counterpart. Ask yourself about your own personal energy level and time commitment before making a decision on what age works best for your family.

Observe the Animal

Take the time to observe the dog. Sit next to the kennel and talk to the pooch. Does he hide in the corner or approach you with a happy expression? Does the dog display any signs of aggression such as growling or is the fur on his back raised? A shelter is an unnatural environment and it’s hard to truly get a handle on a dog’s personality. The sweetest pooch might be terrified in a shelter but a perfect, outgoing gentle companion at home. Hopefully, the shelter has an area where you can take the dog out of the kennel and interact with each other to determine if you get along. 

Visit on More than One Occasion

If you can, visit the dog you are considering adopting several times before making a firm decision. You want to see how the animal’s personality changes every time you visit to determine if the pooch is truly a good fit for your lifestyle and personality.

Consider Size

It’s easy to walk into a shelter and instantly fall in love with a huge dog. However, you need to be honest with yourself about your space requirements. If you live in a tiny apartment and have no significant outdoor area, then a huge dog might not be ideal if the animal is bursting with energy. A dog who does not receive sufficient stimulation or exercise can quickly become destructive. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, a small or medium-sized dog might be a better choice. 

These are just a few things to consider when adopting a shelter dog. Every situation is unique, and you’ll want to take your time making a decision because your choice will impact not only your life but also the dog’s life. You don’t want to bring home the shelter dog and realize you have made a mistake. Instead, you want to be able to confidently provide a forever home for the newly adopted canine companion. 

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I recently lost my beloved Mikey beagle, he was 13 and my total love. He died in a very difficult way and my heart hasn’t been the same since. I would very much like another beagle, I would rather not a puppy but would take one (I older and puppys are a lot of work) an older beagle would be fine, not too senior at this point, I can’t go thru what I did the night I lost my Mkey.

Adele Prindle

Interested in adopting dogs 🐕

Carol Borges

I’m interested in a dog 🐕 size doesn’t matter maybe two please let me know if possible.


Carol Borges

These are great points. I do various work with 3 rescue groups and support that many don’t consider these steps, which unfortunately leads to returns or huge issues. Thanks much.

Holly Johnston

I too adopted a senior pup. She was 6-7 years old when a adopted her. She passed at almost 13 years and I was deeply saddened. I really would like to adopt another senior and have been actively looking.

Carole Kalish

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