How do I Adopt or Rescue a Dog?

Giving any animal a second chance at a loving home is a great thing to do, but when you’re adopting an adult dog the benefits can be huge

With so many adult dogs in the UK looking for new homes, it may just suit your lifestyle and family even better than buying a puppy. Here’s to finding your paw-fect partner!

Why adopt a dog?

Small dog waiting by the door.
  • Puppies demand a lot of devotion such as training (and cleaning up!), disciplining, and giving them all the attention they need.
  • When you adopt a dog you’ll be getting a companion who’s just that bit older and more responsible; and, hopefully, housetrained! They may also understand some basic commands.
  • An adopted dog will already have a personality and established routine.
  • You’ll be skipping out those expensive early years in a puppy’s life: all the infections, spaying, microchipping, and vet bills.
  • You can find a dog best suited to your lifestyle, home and family: dog adoption centres put a lot of effort into finding good matches for both people and pets.
  • If you spend time out of the house, adopting a dog can give busy families a chance to care for a pet without the 24/7 demands of a young puppy.
  • The boundless energy of a young dog can be overwhelming, but adopting a dog in their more senior years can make a better match for older people.
  • Leading charities offer lifelong support. If your circumstances change, most will welcome their dogs back again.

Making the decision to adopt a dog is always exciting, but there are many considerations you should also take into account.

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  • In some sad circumstances, dogs end up in rehoming centres because of neglect or maltreatment. Some may come with a bit of baggage, but staff will always be honest about a dog’s needs: be sure you can handle the commitment if you’re adopting a dog with a hard history.
  • If you already have dogs, introducing a rescue animal should be done with care.
  • If a dog has been used for breeding or showing, they may have learned certain behaviours that you’ll have to help them adapt.
  • It can take time and effort to settle a rescue dog into your home and build a bond, but don’t listen to the adage—older dogs can learn new tricks!
  • Dogs need plenty of space inside and out. Ensure you have enough room in your living arrangements before adopting a dog.
  • You’ll also need enough space in your schedule. Dogs require daily walks and interaction: be sure you have enough time to dedicate to their behavioural, social, and physical needs.
  • There are cost implications of adopting a dog; as well as adoption fees, which vary among rehoming centres, you also need to think about the long-term cost implications.
  • Account for pet insurance, potential vet bills and routine treatments, food, grooming, accessories, toys and kennel bills for when you’re on holiday.

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If you have allergy suffers in your household, low shedding breeds such as schnauzers and poodles might be a good fit for your family. If you’re a runner, or are just keen on plenty of exercise, a good companion for you would be a carriage dog such as a Dalmatian. Alternately, if you’re just looking for someone to cuddle up with on the couch, you might be best suited to lap dog breeds, such as a Shih Tzu.

There are so many different types of dog, so choose the breed carefully. If you need further advice you can find more information in our breed library.

The adoption process

Identify the dog adoption centre you’d like to adopt from: there are hundreds of options across the country which can be found online or locally. Find out more about rehoming centres in your area via Dog’s Trust, The Blue Cross, The RSPCA in England and Scotland, Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home, and the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Speak to staff at the centre about the kind of dog that might be right for you. You should be able to visit and interact with dogs before making your final choice. Some centres like to make a home visit before you officially adopt a dog to ensure it is a suitable environment. If you already have pets, they may also want to see if the dog gets on with them.

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Prepare your home in advance by buying everything your new friend will need:

  • Collar and lead.
  • Bowls for food and water.
  • Cage for travelling.
  • Bed and blanket.
  • Toys and chew toys.
  • Food (the same they are used to eating at the centre).

Day one

Allow your new dog to relieve himself in your outdoor space when you first arrive; take them out hourly to the same area so they can learn where the ‘toilet’ is. Although it’s exciting, ask people to stay calm and let your dog explore before starting the introductions.

Your dog might whine on their first night alone, but try to resist the temptation to go down and comfort them.

Day two

Start their routine of feeding and walking as soon as possible. If it’s quiet time and your dog wants attention, try not to give in: they’ll soon establish when playtime is.

Day three

Use treats to reward good behaviour. Positive reinforcements can make a difference early on when integrating a dog into your family.

If they suffer anxieties from prior experience, remain patient. You can always get in touch with your dog adoption centre for specific advice on your dog.

Day four

Keep to the daily schedule you’ve created as the sense of routine will be comforting, and help them settle in. But don’t forget playtime! Dogs are sociable creatures, and a good bit of play will help to encourage a bond between you.

Onwards

Remain patient with your dog as it may take a few weeks for them to fully settle and establish a routine. You’ll soon start seeing their personality shine through!

FAQs

Dog and owner looking at each other.

Does it cost money to adopt a dog?

Most dog adoption centres require an adoption fee, which varies between centres.

How do I rescue a stray dog?

Ensure it definitely is a stray by asking around, in person and online; you can also visit a vet to see if the dog has a microchip.

Once you’ve determined the dog is definitely homeless, take it to a vet for a full check-up and a microchip for before settling them into your home.

How does the process of adopting a dog take?

The process varies between cases; on average it takes approximately one week, but can be shorter or longer depending on a number of factors.

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