As some of you will know from my social media posts, we are currently searching for the perfect dog to join our family. Our last dog, the almighty Jack Jack, passed away over two years ago now, so it’s time! Prior to the coronavirus epidemic, we had planned a 6 week trip to Europe for a long overdue catch up with friends and family and some downtime, after which we were going to start our search. Properly looking that is.

You are always looking, right? In case the perfect dog comes up…

That trip was of course cancelled and we’ve decided that we should welcome a dog now, since we are both home so much and can settle them in.

But how do you find the right dog?

I don’t know about you, but if I’m bringing a dog into my life for 10+ years, I want it to be a dog I can live with. Of course we can train dogs, manage behaviours and adapt to new situations, but there are a lot of what I would call “personality traits” that some people love, some people hate.

Matching the right dog to the right home is something most rescue organisations take very seriously, but at the end of the day it is up to you ask lots of questions before adopting a dog. Adopting a dog on the basis of the info in an online ad would be like marrying someone after you saw them on Tinder. Don’t do that.

Here’s some examples of “rescue ad speak” that might make you think a dog is perfect or terrible, when the reality could be something entirely different.

“Very loving / affectionate / cuddly”

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Oh we all think we want a loving dog, right? But… are they are constant licker? Some dogs must sit ON you whenever you sit down, others are a bit more independent and like to be at your feet or next to you. Think about which type you’d like and find out which type they are 🙂

“Looking for an active family”

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You will never sit down again… No, but seriously, active can mean different things to different people. Find out if they mean that two one-hour walks each day will be enough or whether the dog needs huge amounts of mental stimulation throughout the day.

 “Needs to be the only dog in the home”

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This could mean that the dog is super aggressive to other dogs. I see a LOT of training in your future J. But this could also mean that the dog ignores other dogs or only gets annoyed when they try to play with them. Well that’s different altogether, isn’t it? Find out the details.

“No children”

OMG they will attack kids! Hey, calm down, this could mean that the dog is just super boisterous right now. It could mean that they are possessive, and could snap at a child who grabs their things. So ask for more info, especially if you don’t have children but sometimes have those mini-people visiting.

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“Strong”

Ok, I threw this in as a red-herring. If a rescue says a dog is strong, trust me – they are strong. Be prepared for a lot of lead training (and a trip to the physio maybe!)

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Rescues are run mainly by volunteers and it can take time to get back to you. The very first time you make contact with a rescue provide as much information as possible about your own home and situation. They just don’t have time to deal with multiple vague enquiries and you might lose heart if you don’t get a response.

Sometimes these questions can’t be answered. For example, if the dog is in a pound or shelter environment, the staff just can’t know how they’d behave in a home environment. Although I used to volunteer at a large shelter, I wholeheartedly recommend adopting a dog from a foster situation where possible because they get to really know the dogs, and they know how they are in a home environment, which is GOLD.

If you see a dog you like in a shelter environment, my tip is to “foster to adopt” where that’s an option. Take them home as a foster first so that you can find out their personality before committing your heart.

Lastly, remember that when your new family member makes it home, they are going to once again be unsettled and may take time to show themselves. Give them time! Here’s a great image that’s been passed around social media lately about the 3-3-3 rule. Adopted dogs take 3 days to decompress, 3 weeks to start to know your routine and 3 months to feel at home.

Questions to ask when adopting a rescue dog
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