1. What are the practicalities and is my lifestyle suitable for a dog?
If you’re at work all day, like to go out for long hours and weekends abroad, your lifestyle may not be suitable to having your own dog. It’s important to remember canines crave company and routine, and leaving a pack animal on its own for long periods wouldn’t be fair.
If you’re set on having a dog despite these circumstances, consider doggy day care, bringing your dog to work or asking trusted neighbours if someone would like to dog-sit. There are also websites where you can meet local dog-sitters who want to spend time with dogs for free. You may also consider small dogs for rehoming, as it may make travelling and day care easier.
2. Is adopting a dog difficult as a novice?
Remember that charities have experience from thousands of successful adoptions, and will have advice on which specific pet may be best suited to your lifestyle, and whether you are suited to owning a dog at this time.
If they don’t think you’re ready for dog ownership, you may even be rejected by the pet rehoming or animal shelter organisation you contacted. The pets in their care are behaviour-assessed and vet-checked before potential adopters get to see the pets.
As a novice, trust the experts and don’t be disheartened if they don’t think you’re a good fit at this time. Try to stay positive and if you’re new to pet care, try to get some experience with animals consider volunteering at a rescue centre to gain insight first.
3. What training will the dog require?
If you visit a rescue shelter, you will quickly realise each dog has its own unique story and needs. The shelter will be able to provide training and behaviour considerations for each dog that’s ready to go to its forever home. This will help you know what to expect when considering a specific dog.
While it can be a common misconception that all rescue dogs are aggressive, that’s simply not the case. What does ring true is that all dogs, regardless of their background, will need your devotion to help them settle into their new home with you.
4. How traumatic is it for a dog to change owners?
Dogs are bred to be man’s best friend, so their attachment is very strong. Our Pet Census 2018 found that 41% of owners referred to their pet as their best friend, and 44% call their pet their ‘baby’.
Research has even shown that dogs dream about their owners. Being abandoned is hugely traumatic, but dogs learn to love again surprisingly quickly.
Dogs are naturally curious of new things, so within a week in a new home, you can expect the dog to take an interest in you, his soon-to-be new best friend.
5. What do you need to know before rehoming a dog with behavioural issues?
A good rehoming centre will have carried out a behavioural assessment of any dogs in their care. If a dog you are considering does have behavioural issues such as anxiety or aggressive tendencies, the shelter will be able to guide you on what support you should be able to offer the dog. If you’re a novice owner or someone who is out a lot, a dog with significant behavioural issues is probably best avoided.
If you do decide to choose a dog with anxious tendencies, remember that anxiety in dogs can come from different sources, and you need to work with a behaviourist or dog trainer to identify triggers. A major trigger for anxious dogs can often be when they are separated from their owner.
An anxious dog may try to follow you as you leave, scratch at doors, chew on doorframes, claw carpets or jump up at windows to try and find a way out. This could be combined with barking, whining and howling to try and persuade you to return.
Similarly, aggression in dogs can come from different sources, and you will also need to work with a behaviourist or dog trainer to identify triggers. It may be that a dog was trained to be aggressive and used as a guard dog, but it could also be food-guarding aggression or fear of people. It’s best not to let the dog off the lead outside until you are absolutely certain that it is safe to do so.
If you’ve decided you’re ready to take the next steps, why not visit our rehoming hub to search for a local shelter and find more useful tips.