Women Hugging a Newly Adopted Sweet Light Brown Puppy

How to Know if Adopting a Rescue Dog is Right for You?

Last updated on February 22nd, 2023 at 08:00 pm

Adopting a rescue dog has become an increasingly popular trend in recent years. But it is important to know if adopting a rescue dog is really right for you. During the Covid Pandemic, adoptions rose so dramatically, that many shelters reported they were empty for the first time! People who were cooped up and isolated due to social distancing requirements realized that having a dog to walk could be a lot of fun.

While this has been good news for a lot of homeless dogs, it is important to ask if adopting a rescue dog is really a good thing. What will happen to these dogs when people go back to work? Hopefully, they will not be returned to the shelter. Newly adopted dogs may go through a huge adjustment when they suddenly find themselves home alone while their family is back at school and work.

Therefore, it is always good to determine if adopting a dog is really right for you and your family for the long run. Probably one of the best ways to make an initial determination is to ask questions of other dog owners and learn from their experience. Then think about what life for you and your dog might be like in the many years to come. Imagining yourself in the future with your dog may help you think carefully about the reality of dog ownership.


I find that every time I go to a shelter, I want to adopt all of the dogs! My heart really goes out to them and I hate to see them in cages. But I know that two rescue dogs are my max! Here here are some practical points to consider if adopting a rescue dog is right for you:

Checklist for Adopting a Rescue Dog from a ShelterYes/No
Are you okay with a dog which does not have purebred papers and is most likely a mixed breed?
Dogs live for an average of 12 years. Can you commit to caring for a dog for his lifetime?
Can you afford to pay for dog licenses, neutering, and micro-chipping if needed?
Do you have sufficient room in your budget for vet bills, food, toys, beds, and basic equipment?
Are you willing to help your new dog with potential behavioral or emotional problems from his past?
Do you have the time in your schedule to devote a few hours each day to your dog’s needs for socialization, training, exercise, and feeding?
Can you ensure that your dog will not be left home alone more than 6-7 hours per day?
If you rent, does your landlord allow pets?
Do you have a yard or a local park for your dog to walk and play in?
Will an adopted rescue dog become a welcomed member of your entire family including current household pets?

Hopefully, you will be able to answer yes to all of the above. If not, think carefully if you can work through any obstacles. Consider whether the timing is right for you and your family. And finally, postponing this big decision is okay, if you are not quite ready. Be sure to read my story about “Preparing to Meet My New Dogs” for some personal insights about the day I met my new pooches. You can also read my post “When is the Best Time to Adopt a Rescue Dog?” if you are concerned about the timing of bringing home a new dog.

Questions to Ask a Shelter Before Adopting

Staff at shelters may only have limited knowledge of each dog’s background. A lot depends on how the dog ended up there–was he rescued from a bad situation; was he surrendered by his owner; did his owner die; or is the dog a stray?

Even with stray dogs however, shelter staff spend a lot of time with their charges and are happy to share what they have experienced with each dog. Below is a list of key questions to ask:

  • Does the dog have a name?
  • How did the dog end up at the shelter?
  • What was his past home life like?
  • Do shelter staff know the dog’s breed?
  • What is the age of the dog?
  • Does he have any known health issues?
  • What is his current emotional state?
  • Does he have any behavioral issues for which he may need some additional training?
  • Has the dog been neutered/spayed and micro-chipped?
  • What are the adoption fees?
  • Can you take the dog home on a trial basis?

You should always ask what is included in the adoption fee such as initial medical care and microchipping services. Some shelters even offer training and a supply of dog food with each adoption. See more information about costs to adopt in my post, How Much Are Adoption Fees for Rescue Dogs? Be sure to check out the post on Allthingsdogs.com about questions to ask before adopting. In addition, I wrote a post about how to tell if a rescue dog is healthy before you adopt. You can click here to read it.

Reasons Not to Adopt a Rescue Dog

There are as many reasons for not adopting as there are for bringing home a new rescue dog. So, make sure you are adopting for the right reasons. Here are some reasons for which you should not adopt:

  • You cannot commit to caring for a dog for his lifetime.
  • You don’t have enough financial resources to cover the annual cost of raising a dog.
  • You are away from home for long hours and/or travel a lot.
  • Other family members do not want a dog.
  • Your home has pets who will not accept a new dog (territorial dogs or cats who are not dog friendly).
  • You want to teach your children to be more responsible.
  • A dog will help you exercise more.
  • You don’t have the time to train or provide emotional support if needed.

Although a new furry friend can help us with some of our personal goals such as exercise or providing life lessons for kids, these should be a side benefit but not a reason to adopt. Likewise, dogs can provide wonderful companionship and teach us a lot, but in a complementary way and not as a prop to fill a huge void in our lives. Topdogtips.com featured a post with some additional bad reasons to adopt.

In other words, a rescue dog needs a responsible, capable, and caring owner to provide a loving home for him. He has probably already had a challenging past experience and is in need of stability and support. So, just be sure this is something you can provide.

Why Adopting Rescue Dogs Can be Awesome

Having said all of the above, I can also attest to how wonderful rescue dogs can be! Although they cannot solve life problems or turn your life around, they can add a lot of rewarding experiences, fun, and sweetness to your life. Be sure to visit my posts, When is the Best Time to Adopt a Rescue Dog, and Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Rescue Dog.

A couple of years ago, I fell in love with my two mixed breed dogs when I discovered them on a local Humane Society website. After searching for several days, I found these two darling sisters who had been surrendered back to a shelter after five years. The owner, who had raised them from pups, simply could not care for them anymore. Therefore, they needed a home where they could stay together. And, because I wanted two female dogs, they seemed perfect! Because I was semi-retired and working mostly from home, I had the time and money to adopt. You can learn more about my dogs and our adventures and life on my About Us page.

But I waited years to get to this point! Since I commuted for many years and worked long hours, I did not did not have the time or energy to raise dogs. But when the time was right, I found these two siblings who were very bonded and had not been separated from birth. So, I brought them both into my life and home.

Newly adopted rescue dogs, Charlotte and Georgia in their new bolster bed, an essential item in equipment you will need before you adopt your dog. an essential item in equipment you will need before you adopt your dog.
Two sweet sisters, Charlotte and Georgia, still snuggle together at eight years old,

These dogs have great energy and good spirits. And they give a lot back to me as well. Because I love to walk and hike, they have been great little companions. And, I will admit that they encourage me to get out more due to their high need for exercise. I love to watch them play together and romp around, and do silly things that make me laugh. They are very affectionate dogs and I often wake up to getting my nose licked in the wee hours of the morning.

I love to watch how excited they get each time I take them to a new park or beach. They love hanging out with me at Starbucks and other restaurants that allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. One of their favorite games is to chase balls and play fetch. And they are always curious about everything especially new trails and parks.

That is not to say that we have not had our challenges. Being part Cattle Dog, especially Charlotte, they love to bark! My neighbors, however, love it a lot less! I have worked hard to calm them down and distract them from their instinct to bark at everything. They also needed some more basic training, so I have taken them to obedience classes and also worked with three different dog trainers. But it has all been worth it! Be sure to see my post Why Do Dogs Make Us So Much Happier for more insights.

Not only do I feel good about giving these two sweet dogs a much needed home together, I have been blessed with their upbeat energy and presence in my home. They have truly enriched my life. And, having mixed breed dogs is interesting because they have their very own, unique personalities. Mixed breed dogs can have fewer genetic health problems and more even temperaments than some purebred dogs.

Therefore, if you have done your homework and feel you are ready, can make the commitment, and want to enrich your life with a new furry friend, then it may be just the perfect time for you to adopt a rescue dog!

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