How to Find the Right Rescue Dog for You

Shelter dogs and rescue dogs are notably some of the best and most loyal animals you could add to your family. While there are 3.3 million dogs in animal shelters across the nation, finding the perfect one to bring home can be challenging. However, considering traits of dogs and features of your home and life may make the process easier.


A dog’s age can play an important factor in finding the best dog for you. In shelters, dogs may range from young puppies to seniors and anything in between. Puppies will take a lot more time and effort as they will require basic training, potty training, and some behavioral training. Puppies are also a lifetime commitment.

Dogs that are somewhere in the middle usually have some training, so you’ll be able to start enjoying time with your dog sooner without the mistakes and stress associated with raising a puppy.

Older dogs still have a lot of love to give. While they may not have as many years left as others, they can be great companions for people who are less active. These pets will also come with some emotional turmoil in the future.


A dog’s breed can be fairly important when deciding what kind of dog is best for you. Not only will you have to account for their size, but different breeds have temperament and energy variations.

Labradors and lab mixes are typically very friendly, but they are also very high energy, and they will require a lot of exercise in order to make them good doggie citizens. Chihuahuas, though small, tend to be more aggressive and protective of their humans. Dogs with even temperaments, like French bulldog mixes or basset hounds, are good choices for people with laid back lifestyles.

While pitbull terriers have a bad reputation, they are often very sweet-tempered and friendly. However, if they are poorly trained and not socialized well enough, their powerful jaws can be a danger. If you don’t have time to train and socialize a dog, these sweet dogs might not be right for you.

It’s necessary to note that there will be breed variations as far as temperament and energy level. There are very hyper basset hounds out there as well as very calm golden retrievers, which is why it’s very important to get to know the dog before you bring them home.


In addition to a dog’s age and their breed, you should consider their size. If you’re looking for a lapdog, probably a St. Bernard mix wouldn’t be ideal. Conversely, if you have small children that don’t know how to be around dogs, a toy breed that might get hurt will not be a good idea.

Your home will also be important to consider when it comes to the size of dog you should choose.

Your Home

Before you even go to a shelter, you need to think about the kind of home you can offer your dog. Your dog will likely need a lot of space to play and move about. The larger the dog, the more room they will need. If you live in a smaller apartment, you might consider getting a smaller breed.

Many pet parents will have a yard, but this is not always the case. Like with the inside of your house, the larger the yard, the better. This will give your dog plenty of space to play.

In instances where you don’t have a yard, you will need to figure out what is in your neighborhood. Perhaps, there is a city park right down the road or a few blocks away. Consider where the nearest dog park is, and determine how often you’ll be able to visit in order to give your pup the space it needs to run and exercise.

As your dog will need many walks throughout the day, you should consider the type of neighborhood in which you live. Safety may be a factor, but you should also consider the best routes with the most patches of grass. In case you adopt a skittish dog, you might also find the best walking routes that are far from loud noises and traffic.

If you’re considering getting a puppy, you might even consider the types of floors you have. As puppies will need to be potty trained, carpets may not be the best flooring as they can stain and harbor smells. On the other hand, if you have tile or hardwood floors, many dogs might have trouble traversing the slick surfaces, especially during playtime.

Your Family

If you are single, likely this won’t matter very much. However, if you have a family, you’ll need to consider their ages and their personalities as well. Likely, you’ll take your family to meet a dog before you bring him or her home. It’s important that everyone get along before you introduce your new pet.

Consider your fur family, too. If you have a cat, it’s important to find a dog that is good with cats. A puppy might be a good option in this case because often you can train your puppy to treat cats well instead of following their instincts to chase.

If your home has other dogs, it’s good to have them meet before you bring a new dog home. Their personalities, whether they are aggressive or overly energetic, need to meld, so every dog has a good environment at home.

Your Schedule

No matter how busy your schedule is, you’ll have to make time for your pooch. If you work a nine to five job, you need to realize that your dog will be left alone for much of the day. In that case, puppies may not be a good option for you as they need the most care. Dogs with special needs also may need someone who is home more or has flexible hours. In addition, pets that need a lot of training will need more of your time.

Dogs need different amounts of exercise, and that will relate to how much time you have. If you choose to adopt a larger breed, they will need more exercise, which means they will need more time to do so. Conversely, smaller breeds and older dogs get tired a little more quickly, so they’ll require less time and fit better into your busy schedule.

At the Shelter

Once you’ve figured out the type of dog that would fit into your home and with your family, go to a shelter with a plan. After you find a reputable shelter that has a screening process and a license, make sure you meet pets that meet your criteria. While you know what you’re looking for, don’t shy away from meeting dogs outside of what you wanted as there could be a gem waiting to be found.

While at the shelter, make sure you ask as many questions as possible and interact with the pup in several different ways and settings. Perhaps you can be around for meal time, take the dog for a walk, or have a playtime session.

Final Thoughts

There are many factors to consider while trying to find the perfect pet for your family. Dogs have varying personalities and needs, and you need to find a pet that will fit your schedule and your home. When you’re looking for a shelter pet, it’s great to have a plan, but you also should follow your instincts. Your perfect pup is out there, and you’ll find them.


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