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Adopting a dog

Rehoming a dog is a wonderful opportunity for you to welcome a new member of the family, and to offer an animal a second chance for a happy life at the same time.

When you plan to adopt a dog, you should be able to find dogs of all ages, but puppies are usually snapped up quickly meaning that there are many older dogs for adoption also looking for their new best friend. Could that be you?

Adopting a dog is not only an incredibly rewarding experience, but rescue dogs also have lots of extra benefits over buying a new puppy.

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  • Adult rescue dogs will tend to be calmer, with an already established routine and personality compared to a young puppy.
  • Some older dogs for adoption will already be house-trained and understand basic commands.
  • A reputable rehoming charity will ensure that your dog has had a thorough medical check, is neutered, vaccinated, wormed and has had any treatment necessary before you take them home.
  • In some cases, the rehoming centre will have information on a dog's history, so they can help you select a pet that will suit your home and lifestyle – for example, if they interact with other pets and children well. This will help to create the perfect match for you and your future pet.
  • Leading charities can offer valuable support and advice throughout your rescue dog's life. This includes welcoming the dog back to find them another suitable home if your circumstances change and you can no longer care for them.
  • With so many dogs available for rehoming, you're almost certain to find a pet that's just right for you with the support of rescue centre advisors.
  • On top of all of this, you will enjoy the satisfaction of giving a rescue dog the happy life and love that every animal deserves

Of course, as with getting any new pet, there are things to consider before bringing your new pal home. This may perhaps be even more important when rehoming a dog, as they may come with extra quirks to be aware of, depending on their life before coming to the shelter.

  • Dogs like to have room to move, and won’t like to be cooped up inside small spaces. Be honest about your living arrangements – do you have room for a dog?
  • Although you may have room in your heart for a dog, you also need space in your diary. Unlike cats, dogs rely on you a lot more to stay exercised and entertained, so make sure you have time to dedicate to meeting their behavioural, social and physical needs.
  • Older dogs may have established behaviour patterns that can be tough to change. It may take time for your dog to settle into their new life with you, but don’t be disheartened – older dogs can in fact be taught new tricks!
  • Sadly, some dogs find themselves in rehoming centres as they’ve been treated badly in the past. In these cases, they might come with a bit of emotional baggage or behavioural problems. Ask the rehoming centre advisor for as much information on a dog’s history as possible before adopting them, so you know what to expect.
  • If you already have a dog at home, introducing a rescue dog should be done with care. This is sometimes easier when introducing a puppy, instead of an adult rescue dog. For more information, see our guide on introducing your dog to other pets.
  • If a dog has been used for breeding or showing purposes, they may have learned certain behavioural patterns that you will need to help them to adapt. Your adoption centre should be able to give you more information.
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There are so many re-homing organisations across the country, from national charities to local shelters and kennels. You'll find plenty of options by researching online, perhaps by even asking for a recommendation from your local vet.

Larger charities in the UK and ROI include:

When you’ve found a centre to adopt a dog from, arrange a visit. The shelter should appear and smell clean, and the staff should have time to discuss your options with you. If you’re looking to adopt a specific breed, The Kennel Club can direct you to an adoption group for the breed that you are interested in

Now for the exciting part – finding your pet and starting the steps to take them home!

  • Speak to the staff at the shelter about the type of pet that you’re looking for. They should be able to show you the dogs they have that they think suit you best.
  • When you have found the perfect furry friend for you, let the staff know so that they can reserve them for you.
  • The rehoming centre will want to visit you at home to make sure that you have a suitable environment for the dog before you can adopt them. So don’t be disheartened not to take them home on the same day!
  • You will be asked to pay an adoption fee, which will help to cover the cost of the care that your dog received during their stay at the rescue centre.
  • Most shelters will neuter and microchip your dog before you take them home. If they don’t, it is likely that you will be asked to sign an agreement promising that you will arrange for it to be done in the near future.
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Although adopting a dog is usually something that will be carefully planned in advance, sometimes surprises can happen. If you find a stray dog and want to rehome it, there are several things to do before you can claim it as your own.

The first thing that you should do is confirm if the dog has an owner. You can do this by asking neighbours, posting signs around your local area and alerting your vet. If none of the former attempts identify an owner, your vet should be able to scan the dog for a microchip to get the owners details.

If the microchip details are out of date, the owner cannot be found or if there is no microchip at all, then you may be able to adopt the dog. Before doing so, ask your vet to give them a full check-up to make sure that they are healthy and see if they need any form of treatment.

Whether you plan to adopt a dog or it happens as a happy coincidence, you have a fun-filled future ahead to make lots of memories with your new dog!

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If you’d like more information on adopting a dog or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM

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