Thinking about getting a rescue dog?

Thinking about getting a rescue dog?

3 May 2023

Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 25 May 2023

If you’re thinking about getting a rescue dog here are some top tips before you take on a new family member!

Overview of article:

Prepare a list

Be Open Minded

Research different rescue centres and charities

Try to be practical when looking at dogs

Don’t get offended if the rescue charity wants to interview you

Experience a dog before making the commitment

Advice for families considering adopting a rescue dog

Advice for couples considering adopting a rescue dog

Have a clear list of what you are looking for and what you can offer

It’s very important to know what you need from a dog and also what you can provide them, for any pooch to be rehomed successfully. Do you have small children? Do you have a garden? Do you have time for lots of exercise? Can you commit the time needed for a dog with additional needs? Do you have experience with dogs?

These and many more questions can all affect which dog would be the best match for you and your situation. Think of what really matters and take your time when making decisions. Getting a dog should never be something you do on an impulse, they are a long-term commitment!

Bonnie, the Cross Breed relaxing in her home
Bonnie, the Cross Breed

Be open minded

Every dog is different, and try to be open minded when investigating re-homing a rescue dog:

  • Older dogs can make great pets, especially as a lot of them come already trained. Puppies can be a lot of work, and as cute as puppies may be, an older, house-trained dog, who is content with short potters round the block might suit you better!
  • You might have your heart set on a certain breed, but it could be that another one suits your lifestyle better.
  • There are dogs who need more support than others due to either health conditions or previous trauma. These dogs can be very rewarding in the hands of the right person. But make sure you can commit to those dog’s needs before you take them on.

Research different rescue centres and charities

There are lots of fantastic rescue centres and charities where you can rehome a dog from, but have a good research to see if they have the kinds of dogs you are looking for and the ongoing support you might need. Some dogs might not need that extra support, but if you are taking on a more challenging dog, a charity that can support you through that is ideal!

Read more in the pre-adoption booklet by the RSPCA.

Buddy, the Cross Breed enjoying walkies
Buddy, the Cross Breed

Try to be practical when looking at dogs

This is a tough one! We can often be led by our heart and not our head when it comes to looking at dogs, but try as much as possible to keep your practical head on. That Border Collie might look adorable, but can you commit to the level of exercise it needs? Or that Great Dane is just gorgeous, but do you realistically have the space a dog like that needs?

It can be easy to go to a rescue centre or look online and want to rehome them all, but just try to think if you can offer that dog the home it needs for it to live its best life!

Don’t get offended if the rescue charity wants to interview you

If a rescue charity wants to get lots of information about your situation, and/or do a house visit, it’s not that they don’t think you’d be a good owner, it’s just that they really care about what happens to their dogs, and want to make sure they are going to get the best care.

It’s important to be honest with them, as it’s vital that your new pooch and you are the right fit, to reduce the risk of difficulties in the future. Rescue charities can also be really good at advising you if they think there may be a better dog or breed for your situation.

Aslan, the Cross Breed enjoying a walk near his home
Aslan, the Cross Breed

Experience a dog before making the commitment

If you’re considering rescuing or adopting a dog in the UK or Ireland, joining BorrowMyDoggy is a great first step to better understand the responsibilities and resources needed when owning a dog full time. Because dog ownership requires a significant investment, joining BorrowMyDoggy has several important benefits for those considering getting a dog:

Here, some of our members share their experiences:

Families: considering adopting a rescue dog

Tracey joined BorrowMyDoggy so her children, who’ve been asking for a dog of their own for years, could finally enjoy some happy dog time. They matched with owner Max and his two Cavaliers, George and Milo, and it turned out to be the pawfect match.

George & Milo, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, playing with Tracey's children
George & Milo, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Becoming a BorrowMyDoggy borrower is particularly helpful for families who are thinking about getting their first dog. Steve joined BorrowMyDoggy so his children could spend time with a dog and matched with Cider, a Wheaten Terrier. After spending several months as borrowers, Steve’s family were finally ready for a dog of their own and because of their wonderful experience with Cider, they went with a Wheaten Terrier.

Cider loves my kids. They’re desperate for a dog, and this is the perfect way of them getting some doggy time.

- Steve, Cider’s Borrower

Couples: considering adopting a rescue dog

BorrowMyDoggy members Katherine and Peter also wanted to get a dog, but as they had never owned one before, they joined BorrowMyDoggy to familiarise themselves with dog ownership. After several months of taking care of local dogs as BorrowMyDoggy borrowers, they finally felt comfortable and confident to get a dog of their own, George the Daschund. Peter and Katherine continue to be BorrowMyDoggy members, now as owners, and feel that George is a very happy, well socialised and trained dog thanks to his BorrowMyDoggy matches.

Most dog owners cannot be with their dogs all of the time due to work and family commitments. There are also lots of dog lovers who cannot currently own a dog of their own because of time, space, or resources. Thankfully, many of these dog lovers are BorrowMyDoggy borrowers and would love to volunteer their time to take local dogs for one on one dog sitting.

If you want the chance to better understand the time commitment, cost and responsibility of owning a dog before getting your own, join BorrowMyDoggy!

Useful rehoming advice

Local dog rescue centres

Alternative to rehoming your dog

Rescue dog tips

The cost of dog ownership

How to socialise your rescue dog

Could a mixed breed or rescue dog be for you?


Tips for choosing a dog

Should I get a dog?

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