Are you thinking about adopting a rescue dog? Here are a few of my top tips to help you select the right dog for you!
During covid we have seen an increase in the number of people adopting dogs, largely due to the fact that a lot of people can now work from home. Similar to the 'toilet roll' rush, available rescue dogs have been hard to find in the UK which has pushed people to look elsewhere, mainly abroad or pay crazy prices for a dog that is a cross breed!
Do your research about the breed and have a long hard think about whether that breed is suitable for your energy and lifestyle. Spaniels and Cocker-poos have been a popular breed for some time now but its quite scary when some people don't actually realise they are working breed dogs! Spaniels have a high prey drive -desire to hunt and chase and cocker-poos are a mix of cocker spaniel and poodle-working breed mixed with a high energy breed. They may look cute but I have worked with many owners that didn't realise how much training they needed to put in particularly in the early stages to gain the respect and trust. French bulldogs have been another popular dog that people adopt just because they look cute. Did you know that the french bulldog is a terrier and english bulldog mix? I have worked with a lot of french bulldogs with behaviour issues mainly wanting to chase anything that moves fast! If you are a low energy family then you need to look at getting a low energy dog; If you are an active high energy family then a high energy dog would be suitable for you.
Dogs are born either a leader or a follower ie they either want to be in charge or they want to follow leadership and have no interest at being in charge. People are the same. However the trouble comes when people who are not very assertive (leader) adopt a dog that is a leader personality and they find it very hard to gain respect and control with their dog.
Types of Rescue
Online Rescues: Over the years 'online' websites advertising dogs for adoption has grown whereby dogs are advertised on a website that are either being kept in a kennel or in a home. The danger is many people will adopt a dog from a picture/video or a sad story on a website without actually meeting the dog first. This doesn't allow you to test the dog in different scenarios- social skills with people, dogs, children, cats and unfortunately most people find this out after they have adopted the dog.
Rescue Organisations: During Covid many rescue centres closed their doors to adoption due to the 'craze' of people just wanting a dog, possibly just for lockdown without thinking long term. Some rescue organisations are very thorough in their rehoming process and will do a home check and let you meet the dog over a number of visits. This enables people to assess whether the dog is suitable for them however the danger is always being led by the heart instead of the head! Rescue centres are a tough place to visit as many people feel sorry for the dogs and will often adopt a dog just on 'looks'. So it is important to visit the dog a few times and assess them around different stimuli and environments.
Abroad: More dogs are being adopted from abroad mainly Cyprus, Romania and Greece. when I do rescue work in Greece I will spend time at the shelter and assess the dogs I will bring back to the UK for our Rescue-Rehab-Rehome programme. I will often have in mind some clients that have asked for me to help them adopt a dog and I will assess a dogs breed, energy, personality, health and behaviour to match with the right owner. Unfortunately most people are not as fortunate to be able to travel to these countries to visit the dog so they will often adopt a dog off the website from pictures/video and their story. You have to understand that adult street dogs have learnt to survive on the streets and are not used to being in a home. So when I hear stories of people that have adopted a rescue dog from abroad and have given up within the first week because they bark or have gone to toilet in the house I get disheartened. Rescue dogs from abroad need lots of patience, time leadership and stability. It can take up to 1-2 years for a street dog to become balanced but it is the most rewarding experience. So if you are not prepared to put the work in then don't get a street dog from abroad!