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Finding the right rescue

So you’re thinking of getting a rescue dog. It‘s a long process, one that doesn’t mean showing up at the rescue centre and just going home with a dog you think ‘looks nice’. Here is some advice to think about before making the commitment:

  • Get to know your rescue really well. It is important that you build a bond with the dog before you take him/her home. Spend a few weeks visiting the dog to understand the characteristics they have and build a trusting relationship. This will help with the transition from centre to your home

  • Get the right dog for your lifestyle. It may be that you live a very active lifestyle so getting a dog that is more than happy to come on walks with you or spend time training is ideal. On the other hand, you like to cosy up on the sofa and watch tv so getting a dog that likes the same should be considered. If you have children, is the dog going to be happy to be around them and are they going to be happy and respectful of the dog.

  • Do your research on breed characteristics. Every breed was created for a purpose, consider if you have the time to mentally stimulate and work with those traits.

  • Understand the expectations for the dog you would like.

Willow is one of our PAWS Rescue Dogs and we couldn't be happier to have her on the team!

'I personally had to think about the age of the dog I could rescue as I was working full time and not from home. I received lots of advice to adopt a dog 18 months plus, although Willow was only 15 months, but we made this work by getting doggy day care.

I didn’t realise how hard separation training could be so I would really recommend looking into strategies before getting a rescue dog but allowing your dog plenty of time to build a relationship with you before putting them through this if that’s something that they need.

Bonds take longer to build with a rescue dog and trust from both sides is really important. Things might be hard for 6 months-a year and I think that’s good to consider before getting a rescue. It’s completely worth the wait because they’ll give you so much love once they trust you completely!

Consider how much time you can give to training and what experience you have with dogs. If this is your first dog, be careful to rescue a dog that doesn’t have big behavioural issues. Take them for a walk before you adopt them. You learn a lot about a dog from a walk and it’s a really good way to start forming a bond.

Consider how much space you have in your home and what time you can give for walks. Many rescues are mixed breeds but it’s good to have some basic knowledge about dog breeds and their typical behaviours (e.g., German shepherds can guard their humans, greyhounds have a high prey drive etc.) so you can think about specific training points that you might need to work on.

Consider costs e.g., any known health problems? do they need to spayed/neutered? Insurance - can be more for older dogs. Any grooming needs? Talk to people that know about and have dogs already. They’re full of advice and tips and once you’ve met your potential rescue, take some time to think about it and make sure it’s the right decision for you and your family.

Ultimately, I chose Willow because I fell in love as soon as I met her. I could see she had some behavioural problems but I have some experience with German shepherds and spoke to a few family members and friends and thought about how I could train her before I made the final decision to adopt her. I am guilty of making impulsive decisions quite often but rescuing Willow is the best decision I ever made. The first 6 months were hard but we’ve both got so much out of the training and have a really lovely bond with one another.'

- Laurie McLellan, PAWS Practitioner

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