Getting a rescue dog is a very exciting prospect – congratulations! However, it is important to consider all aspects of bringing home a rescue dog before you do it. They are far more demanding than some pets. Here are seven things you need to know before adopting a dog.
Rescuing a dog is one of the most exciting and rewarding things you can do. Bringing home a rescue dog for your children can also be a rewarding enterprise. Giving your children a sense of purpose outside of their own lives can teach many good life skills, including passion and empathy.
Here are seven tips for parents.
1. Agree on House Rules First
Before rescuing a dog, a clear set of ground rules need to be laid out. Prospective owners need to consider the dogs routine, asking questions like who will walk, feed, and groom him?
Beyond this, day to day activities need to be considered. For example, is the dog allowed on the sofa? Is the dog allowed in the bedrooms and on the beds?
When asking your dog to do things, all members of the household need to be using the same words. If one family member is using DOWN to mean “lie down” and another is using DOWN to mean “stop jumping up,” this can be very confusing for your dog! Before you bring your dog home, pre-agree on what words you are going to use to cue behavior from your dog.
2. Pick the Right Dog for Your Family
When selecting a rescue dog, its hard not to run out of the shelter with the first cute dog that you see. However, it is important to consider whether this dog is the right dog for your family before signing on the dotted line.
Often, rescue dogs will have a behavioral issue. This is not to say that rescue dogs are bad dogs, quite the opposite! Rescue dogs need a time commitment just like any other dog but having already been rehomed it is of the utmost importance that these dogs now have a stable life. Rehoming them for a second time would be hard for everyone involved.
As a result, when heading to the shelter to pick out a dog it is important to consider how this dog will fit in with all part of your and your kid’s lifestyles. Shelter staff should be able to help you find the perfect match, it may just take some patience.
3 Meet Your New Dog First
Multiple trips to the shelter to meet your potential adoption will be an essential step — ideally for everyone living in the home. Meeting your new dog multiple times will allow you to not only get to know your new dog better but will also allow you to gage your children’s interest.
Though getting a new dog might be overly exciting at first, if this is just a phase for your children their interest will very quickly wane with multiple trips to the shelter. This will allow you to make an informed decision about their commitment level.
4. Be Patient
At the moment, we have no data on how long it takes a rescue dog to settle in a new home environment. Some dogs will bound into their new home and hop up on the couch as if they’d always lived here. Others may take some time and require extra support before they fully comfortable in their new space.
You and your child should create a safe space for the dog. This is usually a crate or other enclosed den but can be any space where your dog can feel safe. The safe space should contain a cozy bed, something that smells familiar to your new pet, and fresh drinking water.
Explain to your children that the safe space is like your dog’s bedroom. They are not allowed to enter your dog’s bedroom except in an emergency, but they can ask the dog if they would like to come out by offering treats or a walk. Whatever the dog decides, they have total control of their environment in this safe space.
5. Get Dog Tags & Microchipping
Getting a well-fitting collar with your dog’s information on the tag is an essential buy when your new dog first comes home.
As your home will be an entirely new environment for them, so if your dog escapes the new terrain will leave your dog totally lost. Having a dog tag and a microchip with your updated information on it will enable rescuers to quickly return your dog to you.
Having updated information on your dog’s tag including owner’s name, address and phone number will be critical throughout your dog’s life, but even more so when they first come home.
This is another activity that you and your children can complete together. Going to the pet store and picking out a collar and tags can be a really fun activity, as well as getting your child to show interest in your dog’s safety.
6. Create a Schedule
If you have multiple children in the home, it can be a good idea to create a schedule around everyone in the family’s commitments. Having a chart to tick off that your children are feeding, walking, grooming and taking care of your dogs needs can help to give them a sense of progress and achievement.
For example, if you know your children have soccer practice on a Wednesday night, so they will be unable to feed and walk the dog on that evening, then it may be worth planning in advance for this.
Having a chart also allows you to ensure basic care is being done for your new dog. It can also be extremely rewarding for your children to take care of something.
7. Other Things to Know Before Adopting a Dog
When bringing home a dog, it is important to consider the welfare of everyone in the home. Though a rescue dog can be a fun and exciting project for you and your children, it is also important to remember that a dog is huge time and financial commitment.
For example, a dog requires company for the majority of the day. By comparison, rodents tend to be quite independent and prefer to spend their days asleep, and so maybe one of these pets would be better suited to your needs.
But if you’ve checked off the boxes and this looks like the right commitment — go for it. A family dog is a true joy, and will teach everyone about responsibility and empathy for the rest of their lives.