How to Choose a Rescue Dog

How to adopt a friendly shelter dog who’s right for you.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
Episode #118

Many shelters and rescue groups work hard to make good matches between people and dogs. They systematically evaluate a dog’s behavior. And, as much as possible, they assess the dog’s activity level and personality. Last week, I offered some advice for a situation where a young, super-high-maintenance dog had been placed with an inexperienced family that included two young children. The rescue group should have sent that family home with a low-key, child-loving, adult dog and saved the firecracker for someone who didn’t have little kids and was excited about working intensively with him.

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But many rescues and shelters are underfunded and understaffed, and some are just plain careless. This week, 3 Quick and Dirty tips to help you choose the right shelter dog:

Tip #1 – Prep Before You Go

Think about what you’re looking for in a dog. A couch-potato pal? A running partner? A sedate companion for long walks? The answers suggest how young and energetic your dog should be.

Consider how much time you have to spare. Housetraining doesn’t take forever, but it’s a lot of work. Almost all puppies and young dogs need plenty of exercise. Manners training calls for much up-front time, attention, and consistency. As for grooming, you’ll be doing that, or paying for it, throughout your dog’s life. The choice between high and low maintenance is a lot less trivial than it might seem.

Feel like you don’t have a lot of time and energy to invest? That’s fine: older, quiet, short-coated dogs need homes too.


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