Expert Advice On Adopting An Adult Rescue Dog

If you’re looking into adopting a new dog, congratulations! Nowhere will you find a better companion than an adopted rescue dog. If you don’t think your near future entails floor puddles, chewed belongings, and other puppy messes, you’re probably thinking about adopting an adult rescue dog.

Reasons To Adopt An Adult Rescue

Adult dogs are adopted less often than adorable puppies. While puppies are precious, they are also a lot of work. People think of puppies as a clean slate with no issues to inherit but for some, the thought of raising a new puppy is an exhausting one.

Adult dogs also usually create less mess. Many adult dogs are already house-trained and may have other training as well. Adopting an adult dog from the shelter may mean you have less to teach your new adoptee.

Adult dogs are generally less work than a new puppy as well. They’ve outgrown a lot of the silliness and hyper energy puppies exhibit. Puppies need near-constant monitoring, whereas adult dogs can often be left unattended while their people go to work for the day.

If you don’t have as much time to devote to all of the training a new puppy needs, an adult dog might be a better choice. Since puppies are adopted much more often, adopting an adult dog instead gives another rescue a chance at a happy life.

Questions To Ask When Adopting An Adult Dog

Unfortunately, not all adult rescues are adoptable. Adult dogs do come with history attached, and some individuals have too many issues to safely adopt out. It’s important to be realistic about what you and the other members of your household can handle when it comes to canine behavioral issues before you commit to an adoption. It’s far better to be pragmatic about your capabilities than to take home a dog and be forced to return them because they are more than you can handle. Here are several questions to ask before bringing home an adult rescue dog:

What Do You Know About the Dog’s History?

When you plan to adopt an adult dog, who are you dealing with? A shelter? A rescue volunteer? The dog’s original owner? No matter who you are interacting with, garner as much information about the dog and their history as you can. Knowledge is power and can help you develop a game plan for smoothing the transition for your dog into their new life. If you can find little to no information on the dog’s history, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t the dog for you. If they appear healthy, friendly, and suited to your lifestyle, don’t be afraid to get to know the dog yourself.

Why Is the Dog Up For Adoption?

Consider what reason is given for the dog being put up for adoption. Some reasons are related directly to the dog (he needs more exercise than we can give him, he bit our daughter) while some are through no fault of the dog (divorce, death, or losing a home). If a dog is up for adoption for reasons unrelated to his behavior, you can probably disregard them. If the reason is directly related to the dog, be very honest with yourself about whether this behavior is something you can manage.

What Behavioral Problems Does the Dog Have?

No dog is perfect, but knowing in advance just what imperfections your intended new furbaby may exhibit will allow you to get ahead of the game. Many behavioral problems can be fixed with training and conditioning. Others can require more determination and patience to overcome. Still, other behavioral issues are too severe to take on alone. Once you know what issues you may be facing, you can decide if this is something you can/want to take on with the help of a professional or if the issues are too difficult to contend with at all. 

How Is the Dog With Children or Pets?

Even if you don’t have children or other pets, you will encounter them eventually. Like we said before, knowledge is power. Knowing beforehand if your dog has a fear of children or aggression towards cats will allow you to anticipate and avoid negative encounters and confrontations. It’s especially important to know how your dog will react to and interact with other dogs. Do not bring home an adult dog unless you are prepared for how they might react to each member of your family, regardless of whether they walk on two legs or four.

Where To Adopt An Adult Rescue Dog

As with all industries, we’ve gone technological.


Like the Tinder of the pet adoption world, Petfinder has become the number 1 most common online place to look for an adoptable pet. Petfinder allows you to search for a new pet by species, breed, gender, and geographic area, among other things. Many local shelters list their adoptable animals on Petfinder so you can peruse the possibilities from the comfort of your home.

Breed-Specific Rescue Groups

If you’re looking to adopt an adult rescue dog of a specific breed, look for an associated rescue group. You can check for that particular breed’s club website. If the breed has a rescue group, it will be listed here. Be aware that finding a purebred individual from a specific breed to adopt may take more time than adopting a stray mutt from the shelter.

Your Local Shelter

If your local shelter doesn’t list their available animals on Petfinder or another website, you may just have to make a visit in person. Fair warning, you will fall in love with every dog.

Take Your Time

Now that you’ve made the decision to adopt an adult rescue dog, it can seem like you need to jump right in and bring your new canine companion home immediately. While there are innumerable unwanted dogs in need of homes in shelters across the world, it pays to be patient. Adopting a dog is ideally for life, so don’t rush the decision. Get to know a few dogs and find the best fit for your family and situation. Being honest about your lifestyle and routines is paramount to the happiness of you, your family, and your new pet. Once you adopt, you want it to be for the life of that animal. Set yourself up for success by waiting for the adoptable dog that fits well into your world.

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