Rescued by rembrandt
A young brunette woman smiling as she hugs a shaggy cream rescue dog.

Are you thinking about adopting a rescue dog? Giving a forever home to an animal in need can be very rewarding. But there are several things to consider. Before making this kind of life-changing decision (for you and the dog), you need to be prepared. That way, you can look forward to a smooth and successful adoption process—and a lifelong canine companion!

Why Adopting a Rescue Dog Is Worthwhile

Adopting a rescue dog can have a huge impact on your life and the life of your new pet. It’s not only a great way to expand your family but also an opportunity to provide a loving home to a homeless animal. It’s no wonder 44% of people prefer to adopt pets from shelters or rescues!

Here are just a few benefits of adopting:

When it comes down to it, adopting a rescue dog allows you to make a difference while enjoying the love, happiness, and companionship only a pet can provide. 

How to Prepare for Adoption

Before adopting a rescue dog, you need to make sure you’re ready. Preparation is key to ensuring a smooth transition for both you and your new canine companion. Below are some basic steps to take ahead of time. 

1. Research Breeds 

Different breeds have different temperaments, energy levels, and care needs. And the same applies to mixed-breed dogs. So, it’s worth doing some research. By educating yourself, you can have a better idea of what to expect when you come across a dog you want to adopt. 

2. Assess Your Capabilities

Adopting a dog—let alone a rescue—is a major responsibility. That’s why you need to assess your own needs and capabilities first. The following are some factors to consider:

By asking yourself these questions, you can make sure you’re in a good position to adopt. Plus, you can determine the type of rescue that would best fit your family.

3. Find a Good Rescue

If you want to adopt a rescue dog, locate a good rescue or shelter first. Reputable rescues prioritize the well-being of their animals and provide support throughout the adoption process. So, look for organizations with positive reviews and transparent practices. 

4. Ensure Your Home Is Safe

Typically, part of the adoption process requires a walk-through of your home—either in person or via photos. That’s why it’s important to make sure your home is safe for your new pet beforehand. Dog-proof your home by securing trash cans, removing toxic plants, and safeguarding electrical cords. Additionally, set up a designated space for your new dog to feel safe and comfortable.

5. Purchase Basic Supplies

If you’ve ever had a dog (or have one currently), you probably know what they need. Still, it’s worth noting that having basic supplies on hand is crucial when adopting a rescue dog. It can help your new pet settle in and make the transition much easier. 

Here are some items to buy before you bring your rescue dog home:

What to Ask When Adopting a Rescue Dog

Part of being a responsible adopter is making an informed decision about the dog you bring home. And that means asking the right questions. Below are 15 essential questions to ask when adopting a rescue dog.

  1. Where did the dog come from?
  2. How many homes has the dog had?
  3. Is there any history of abuse or neglect?
  4. How long has the dog been with the rescue/foster?
  5. What breed is the dog (or what is the likely breed mix)?
  6. Does the dog have any health problems?
  7. Has the dog had a behavioral assessment? If so, can I see the results?
  8. Does the dog need time to warm up to other animals or people? If so, how long?
  9. What does the dog’s daily routine look like?
  10. Is the dog house-trained?
  11. Does the dog know the difference between toys and household items?
  12. What’s the dog’s personality/temperament like?
  13. Does the dog know basic commands?
  14. Does the dog know their name?
  15. What if the placement doesn’t work out?

Any rescue organization should be willing and able to answer these questions to the best of their ability. After all, their goal is to find a suitable home for each animal in their care. 

What to Expect When Adopting a Rescue Dog

A shy German Shepherd resting his head against his owner’s leg.

Adopting a rescue dog comes with its own set of rewards—and challenges. But knowing what to expect once you bring your new pet home can set you up for success. By learning about the phases they go through and common issues they exhibit, you can prepare yourself to be the compassionate, caring pet parent your dog deserves. 

The 3-3-3 Rule

Frequently used in the animal rescue space, the 3-3-3 rule refers to the phases a rescue dog or puppy goes through after being adopted. It outlines the period of adjustment over the first few days, weeks, and months. Although it’s a general guideline, it can provide insights into your dog’s behavior and allow you to recognize milestones. 

  1. First 3 Days:
    • Your dog may feel scared and uncertain.
    • They may be hesitant to eat or drink. 
    • They might be wary about exploring their new environment.

At this stage, it’s crucial to give them space and avoid overwhelming them with too much attention or activity.

  1. First 3 Weeks:
    • Your dog will start to settle in and understand your routine.
    • They’ll start showing their real personality.
    • Behavioral issues might start to emerge.

Consistent training and patience are essential during this period of adjustment.

  1. First 3 Months:
    • Your dog will start to fully trust you and feel at home.
    • A strong bond will form as you continue to work through any remaining behavioral challenges.
    • They will become used to their routine.

At this point, your dog will likely feel like a part of the family. 

Common Issues with Rescue Dogs

Change can be scary for pets, especially rescue dogs. If you’ve done your due diligence before adopting your rescue dog, you should know about any negative behaviors they’ve exhibited. But that doesn’t mean you won’t run into some problems as they adjust to their new home. 

Here are a few common issues you might encounter and how to address them:

Be Prepared to Welcome a Rescue Dog into Your Family

Adopting a rescue dog is a major commitment that requires time, patience, effort, and love. That’s why it’s important to get your home ready, ask the right questions, and understand the challenges involved. By preparing beforehand, you can develop a fulfilling relationship with your new furry family member.

Remember that every dog is unique, and your journey together will be one of learning and growth!