Categories: Family

The One Thing I Didn’t Expect About Adopting a Rescue Dog

Say hi to Coco! She is the newest member of our family! I’ve been thinking about adopting a rescue dog for a while now, so I thought I would share my experience with you. Although puppies are great – they are adorable and it’s so much fun to watch them grow – I felt certain I wanted to rescue a dog rather than get a puppy from a breeder. The thing is, there are so many dogs in the world that need good homes, so it felt selfish to me not to adopt a dog that needed a home.

Thankfully, I connected with SD Bullies Rescue Mission a couple of years ago when my friend adopted a Frenchie puppy who had some health issues. That’s when I first fell in love with Frenchies because my friend’s dog is so sweet, so much fun, and really amazing with his kids. As you’ve probably heard in the news, Frenchies are in high demand. When it comes to adopting dogs, I think a lot of people assume you will end up with a mutt. What I really didn’t expect from this experience, and what surprised me, is that you can get your designer dog from a rescue too. 

Nearly every breed of dog I’ve ever been interested in adopting has its own dedicated rescue in nearly every part of the country. My sister lives in Minnesota and she wanted a Goldendoodle. She was able to get a young Goldendoodle from a rescue too. 

What to Expect When Adopting a Rescue Dog

There are a few things to expect when it comes to a rescue dog. First of all, you need to remember that this dog has a past. This dog has lived in other homes. Unless you get a very young puppy, your rescue dog may have some trauma, health issues, or bad habits that you’ll need to deal with.

Advice for Adopting a Dog

There are a lot of things to consider when you adopt a dog from a rescue. You will want to be as well educated on the breed as you can. You want to understand the dog’s temperament as well as their health needs going forward. It’s important that you also know what you are going to need to care for the dog. Here are a few things to consider when adopting a rescue dog. 

Ask A Lot of Questions

When I spoke to the rescue about Coco, they shared her background with me. I knew she had lived with two different breeders and that she had been bred to bear puppies. She had a complicated pregnancy which had caused her some health issues. I spent a lot of time talking to the previous owner to be sure that her health issues were something I could handle. Make sure you understand the background of the adopted dog as much as you can. You wil also want to know what kind of food the dog likes, what the dog’s eating/sleeping habits are like, how the dog does on leash/off leash, and also how the dog does around other dogs/pets if you have other pets in the house. 

Meet the Dog Before You Adopt

If you are able to foster the dog or at least spend some time with the dog before you agree to adopt a rescue dog, I think that’s a great idea. Before I met Coco, in my mind, I knew that when I met her, I wanted to be sure she exhibited certain behaviors. It was important to me that she was a friendly dog who came up to me and wasn’t afraid of me. I’ve met other female dogs that are very timid and I knew I didn’t want a timid dog. It was also super important to me that she was good with kids, but I was reassured because she was previously in a home with three young children. 

The moment I met Coco I knew she would be a great fit for my family because she was outgoing and playful, but also very sweet. She made eye contact with me and displayed an interest in me, but wasn’t aggressive or passive, just the right amount of interest. 

Dog Adoption Fees 

A lot of people want to be able to adopt a dog for free, but you should be prepared to pay an adoption fee. The adoption fee varies significantly. I’ve seen fees as low as $50 at an animal shelter, to over $1500 for a designer dog. It really depends on what type of dog and where you’re adopting the dog from. I personally felt good about paying an adoption fee because I know it cost the previous owners a lot of money to maintain the dog and also help her get back to good health. Also, since I got Coco from a rescue, my adoption fee is actually a donation so it is tax-deductible. 

Renaming Your Adopted Dog

Coco’s name was Laila when we adopted her. She is only two years old and didn’t seem that aware of her name, so we decided to change it to Coco. We’ve spent a lot of time the first week just repeating her name a lot. Although I’m not sure she knows it yet, she will know it soon. It’s important to be consistent and say her name often, when feeding, when playing, when praising. And, it’s all about patience. 

Be Patient with Your New Adopted Dog

The benefit of a puppy is that they should adapt to their new surroundings very easily, whereas, with an older dog, it may take some time. The first few days, Coco was definitely nervous in her new home, so I tried to make her as comfortable as possible with her own dedicated bed and space. Most days, you’ll now find her asleep on the couch. With a new environment, you have to remember that a dog may feel uncomfortable at first. Even if they are potty trained, they may have more accidents just because they are anxious. Be patient, and work on training your dog and acclimating them to their new home.

Training Your Rescue Dog

If you’re lucky like us, your dog may already be trained. Coco is already fully potty trained and she walks very well on the leash. She doesn’t know many other commands, so we’re working on sit, stay, those types of things. So far she’s been doing great. I know I need to take a lot more time to train her even more fully so she understands sit, stay, come, bed, etc. Training simply takes patience and effort. Coco is very smart. I was able to teach her to sit in less than two days, with minimal effort. She is food motivated, so new snacks were enough incentive for her. Just find what works for your dog, whether it’s toys, food, or praise. 

Adopting a Dog Near You

Are you looking to adopt a dog? I would suggest you first check out your local shelters. If you’re looking for a very specific breed, here’s what to do. I would suggest you head to your web browser. Search for the name of the dog breed along with rescue and your state. There are several bully rescues in California alone. I’m sure you can find your preferred dog if you look hard enough. It might take a little longer than going to a breeder to get a new puppy. But, I promise that adopting a dog is totally worth it!

We’ve only had Coco for about a week, but she’s doing great! My kids adore her and she’s been doing really well with adjusting to our home. Her appetite wasn’t very good for the first few days, but that worked itself out after a few days. She only had one accident after her first bath, but otherwise has adjusted so well. We love her so much and we are so glad we went the route of adopting a rescue dog. 

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Stacey Freeman: I am a Style Maven, Mommy, Educator, and Traveler.

View Comments (2)

  • velvetwhip says:

    I am so happy for you that you've brought this adorable little lady into your home! I too am a big fan of rescues. My last one... well, I went into the shelter knowing I wanted a dog about two years old, something in the dachshund/bichon frise/mini poodle line. I knew that under no circumstances did I want a terrier. I walked out with...a ten year old rat terrier/Jack Russell cross. Best unintended choice I ever made. We had seven amazing years together. Rescues are the very best. I wish you so many happy years with your girl!

    • Thank you so much! Glad you had a good experience!