Rescuing a dog instead of buying one is such a good thing to do, but there are still many people out there who wouldn’t even consider it an option. In the UK in 2020, it is estimated that there are roughly 9.9 million dogs. Most of these dogs live as beloved members of families, faithful companions and cherished employees, but this doesn’t change the fact that each year, rescue centres and dog pounds become homes to thousands of less fortunate dogs.
In 2014, according to Dogs Trust UK, 47,500 dogs were abandoned by their owners. At any moment in time, The Dog’s Trust estimates that roughly 110,000 dogs will be waiting in one of these centres for a new home. Many of these dogs have been left to fend for themselves on the streets, beaten or abandoned – they may have terrible pasts that you couldn’t even imagine.
So instead of buying a puppy this year, if you’re looking to bring a dog in your life, give some thought to these above-capacity rescue centres and consider adopting a rescue dog.
Think about What Your Money Is Supporting
Providing no access to healthcare or proper socialisation, the unethical puppy mills funded by purchasing a dog from a local store or breeder often store puppies in clumsy, filthy and cramped conditions. While those who buy dogs are not actively engaging in the harmful behaviours seen at these mills, they are indirectly responsible for the continued operation of these businesses.
Many rescue centres in the UK today are full and are having to turn away dogs in need. You can create the space necessary for another dog to get help if you adopt from one of these shelters. As we approach another Christmas, it’s worth also thinking of all the families who have underestimated the huge amount of patience, learning and perseverance that bringing a new dog into their homes would involve. This is where we get the familiar slogan, “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”.
If you do choose to adopt a rescue dog, you’ll need to do whatever you can to make sure they adapt well to their new and loving home as quickly as possible. To do this, you need to understand the unique challenges that this decision can bring.
It can be extremely rewarding to care for a rescue dog, however challenging it may be.
You Save a Life
This may well be the most important reason to adopt a dog. Our dogs depend on humans for care and shelter and by choosing a rescue dog, you are saving that dog’s life. You will be given unconditional love in return for a fresh start and a new home. You can make the process of rehoming your dog much more stress-free and effective for the both of you if you follow a few simple tips.
You can help guide your new rescue dog through their issues, and this will create an extra-special bond as you bring them into your home.
Whether or not now is the right time for you to rescue is the first thing you should consider before rehoming a rescue dog. It’s generally a good idea to postpone your adoptions until you reach a period of time with no upcoming distractions – no holidays planned, house moves, new babies or new jobs. It’s really important that you can give your new dog your full attention at all times when you’ve just rehomed them, whether or not they are a rescue. A busy household with no routine can be terrifying for some dogs, and rescue dogs in particular can be very nervous in their new environment.
Some rescue dogs will already be well-trained, having been rehomed through no fault of their own. Not all rescue dogs are difficult, but all rescue dogs will need a little special care in their first weeks at their new home.
Figuring out what type of dog is right for you is the next point to consider. Think about whether you need a dog that is comfortable with other pets or small children, how many walks you’ll have time for and what level of dog-handling experience you have. Adopting a Border Collie that has only ever lived outside on a farm is likely to be a very bad idea, for example, if you’re living in a small apartment and already have other pets. Whatever your requirements, there is likely to be a rescue dog out there that fits them, and the team at your local rescue centre will be able to help you find them. You don’t know for sure if you’ll be able to adapt your lifestyle completely or “fix” any issues, so don’t be tempted to settle for an unsuitable pet. Take your time and find the dog that is right for you. Walking away and waiting for the right dog is far kinder to both the dog and your family.
Most adult rescue dogs will already have basic training or at least house-training. This training will have to be done from scratch if you opt for a puppy, rescued or not.
Preparing Your Home
You can make your life a lot easier and help your new rescue dog settle in quickly if you spend some time preparing before their arrival. If you make things easier with some forward planning, it will be easier for you and your new pet to get over those first-day jitters.
For more information about preparing your home for your new companion, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to Rescue Dogs which addresses the major points one should consider before taking in a dog and re-homing it. It covers general issues about owning a dog and thinking about adopting as opposed to buying from a breeder, and welcoming a rescue dog into the home.