Here are a few important steps to consider when picking a rescue dog.
1. Size of Rescue Dog
Every year, thousands of dogs are given away or abandoned because the puppy that someone bought grew to be bigger than anticipated.
This is an unacceptable mistake.
If you live in an apartment or a small home, do not get a Great Dane puppy hoping it will stay tiny. It won’t. If your building has a weight restriction, don’t get a dog that exceeds that restriction by a significant amount. A 30-lb Beagle might squeak by on a 25-lb limit. A 130-lb Saint Bernard will not. Please do not put a dog in this situation.
You should also consider the size of the dog, even if you have no such limitations. Do you want a big dog that can roughhouse with you?
Do you want a medium size rescue dog that fits in bed with you, but can also run around the yard chasing squirrels without you living in fear that it will break a brittle bone?
Maybe you want a lap dog that you can carry around with you.
These are all key questions to ask yourself before you adopt a rescue dog. Most people reading this site love dogs and have only the dog’s best interest at heart. But, even the strongest among us has taken that trip to the rescue thinking we want a Pom only to find that an irresistibly cute Rottweiler grabs a hold of our heart. If this happens, and you know that you can accommodate the Rottie, then go for it. But, if you can’t keep a big dog, stick with your original plan.
2. Activity Level of Rescue Dog
This one is tricky because it changes over the course of a dog’s life. Puppies that were tearing the house apart grow into calm, easy-going dogs.
Quiet puppies can turn into high-energy adults.
But, knowing the general disposition of the breed you’re choosing can help with this.
Remember that dogs are living beings with individual personalities. Take some time to think about what you want your relationship with your new dog to be:
- Do you want to hike with her?
- Are you looking for a Netflix and ice cream partner?
- Do you like to walk the city with your buddy by your side?
- Are you taking him off-leash to run the beach or in the countryside?
- Do you want a little of all of the above?
Researching breeds can help. It’s not absolute since, though. There are lazy Terriers and high-energy English Bulldogs. But, in general, breed energy requirements are a good indicator.
If you are looking at a mixed breed, try to evaluate the dominant breed, if possible. If not, see if you can spend some time alone with the dog to get a better feel for how it behaves outside of the shelter. Remember, being in a rescue around multiple dogs, with new people coming in and out to meet them can change a dog’s behavior. Some will be scared, others overly excited. See how they are away from the excitement.
3. Age of Rescue Dog
The age of the dog you’re considering is key.
Are you high energy? Yes? A puppy may be right for you. Remember, no matter how energetic you are, puppies have a tremendous amount of energy to burn. This can lead to much mischief. If you’re not ok with losing a pair of shoes or two, go older.
Are you medium energy? Consider a dog between 1 and 3 years old. At this point, bigger dogs will have settled down considerably. Smaller dogs are still in late-puppyhood through the one or two year mark, so they’ll give you much playfulness, but the destructive period is mostly over.
Are you prone to long binge-watching sessions on the couch? Think a 20-minute walk is the height of your exercise life? Like a calm, quiet house? Consider adopting an adult or senior dog.
Now, don’t think that seniors or adults are not playful. They are. In fact, it’s not uncommon for senior dogs to regain a puppy-esque playfulness after leaving a rescue or shelter. But, those energy bursts are short-lived. A good walk with your new friend and she’ll be more than happy to lay on the couch with you for hours afterward.
Adults and seniors also come with the added benefit of knowing their disposition already. It’s tough to judge where a puppy’s personality will lead, but with a dog 3+, you have a good idea of who they are right away.