What Questions Should You Ask Before Adopting a Rescue Dog?

They say the best breed of dog is Rescue. While that may be true and an extremely worthwhile thing to do. It can also be a leap of faith. 

Whether you are adopting from one of the well-known charity organisations or from your local animal rescue, it is important to ask questions and get as much information as you can about your potential canine companion. 

Dogs in a kennel will also behave differently to that of a home environment. Therefore, foster homes are so important as it gives the rescue centre the chance to see how the dog is in a more realistic setting. It will take a rescue dog time to settle into their new surroundings so remember the 3-3-3 rule and allow time for a relationship and trust to develop between you and your new dog. Depending on their age, you could have your dog for upwards of 10 years. So don’t rush.


Here are 20 questions that can be grouped into three categories. 

Background, Health and Behavioural. The rescue centre may answer some of these questions automatically. Some of their answers may also be educated guesses based on their previous experience. It’s worth considering that lots of rescues are staffed by volunteers, and they are not necessarily canine professionals.  


Background Questions; 

  • How long has the dog been in the rescue centre? 
  • Does the rescue know why the dog was surrendered? 
  • What age is the dog, approximately? 
  • Where and what type of bed does the dog sleep on at night? 
  • Has the dog ever been to a groomer?  
  • Is the dog microchipped? 
  • Has the dog travelled in a car before? 
  • What breed or mix of breeds is the dog? 

Medical Questions; 

  • Has the dog been examined by a veterinarian? 
  • Is the dog microchipped? 
  • Is the dog fully vaccinated? 

Behavioural and Training Questions; 

  • Are there any known behavioural issues? Resource guarding or Separation anxiety?
  • Can the dog be left alone for periods of time? 
  • Does the dog get along with other dogs and cats? 
  • Is the dog fearful of anything?  Examples may include cyclists, joggers, thunder and fireworks
  • How is the dog with strangers? Men in particular 
  • How is the dog with children? 
  • Any bite history? 
  • Does it feel like the dog has had any training? What behaviours does it know? 
  • Can you take the dog for a short walk? 

Your choice of dog breed or mix of breeds is important because it must fit with your lifestyle. It is also especially important to consider behavioural issues that may only emerge as the dog becomes familiar with their new home. You may need to engage the services of a qualified canine behaviourist and commit to a programme of rehabilitation. 

 All dogs need to be appreciated as a species, a breed and as an individual and no dog is perfect. But with some expert preparation and an open mind, you might just find a friend for life. 

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