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Should You Buy a Puppy or Rescue a Dog?

When looking for your new canine companion, you have two basic choices. You can choose to buy an adorable puppy, or you can adopt one from a rescue centre.  

However, with any decision, there are pros and cons to every possibility.  


Buying a puppy  

When you buy a puppy, you will get plenty of information about their health, but this means that you’ll be taking home an adorable little puppy who has only just left their litter, so all the training is up to you!  

You’ll have to give them plenty of time as they grow up and be ready to guide them through their developmental stages. It’s quite a big task; your training will shape the puppy’s personality, so you must have the time to dedicate to it.  


Adopting a puppy  

Yes, many rescue centres have puppies available for adoption. You will get the same benefit of having an adorable puppy but the same responsibility for training. However, you will often not have the same level of information about the health of the puppy’s parents when he or she arrives at the rescue centre. With mixed-breed puppies, the rescue centre might not be completely sure of their heritage, which could mean they end up bigger than expected when they grow up!


Rescue centres rarely advertise their puppies; they’re often in demand as many people prefer to adopt a puppy rather than an older dog.  


Adopting a dog  

While you don’t shape their personality, you do have a better idea of who you’re bringing home! If you have as little time to dedicate to training, then an adult dog who is already trained is a much better choice than a puppy. However, not all rescue dogs are properly trained; they may have lingering issues resulting from earlier circumstances.

Staff will inform you of any issues they’re aware of before you make your choice.  

Taking on a difficult dog is very rewarding, but it’s also very challenging and should not be undertaken if you don’t have the time, experience, or patience to cope!  

The best thing about adopting an adult dog is, of course, knowing that you’ve given them a new chance at a happy life and a forever home. There are a huge number of positives.  


Rescue dog pros:  

  • You are saving a life—a cliché, but true.  

  • Older dogs can learn new tricks.  

  • Your dog may be house-trained, which saves you time and effort.  

  • Many rescue dogs are mixed breeds, meaning they are less prone to breed-specific health issues and may live longer.  


However, there are also downsides. 


Rescue dog cons:  

  • Your dog may not be house-trained or have forgotten the house rules!  

  • Little or no medical history.  

  • You may not find the exact breed you had in mind.  

  • You may have to answer some personal questions, some of which can be uncomfortable.  


Helping a rescue dog settle in  

The most important thing when bringing a rescue dog back to a new home is helping them to settle in and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. There are a few things you can do to make them feel like they're part of the family. When you first bring your new pup home, keep them on their lead—or an indoor training lead—and take them around each room of the house, as well as any gardens or outside space. 

Now this is where guidebooks and websites will advise you to keep the dogs away from any rooms you don't want them in, but they will want to know what is in those rooms they think you're keeping them from, so even if you plan to keep them downstairs, for instance, let them at least see and smell upstairs at least once.   

You should ensure that you give your dog a dedicated space that they can go to if they feel uncomfortable; this may be a bed or crate in the corner of a room. Try to refrain from bothering your dog while they’re in this space so that they can be confident that they are safe.  


Dog-proofing your home  

Like puppies, bringing a rescue dog into your home can be problematic if they lack training. There are steps you can take to minimise the chances of them harming themselves or, worse, escaping:  

  • Do not leave chewable items, e.g., shoes, books, etc.  

  • Ensure that gardens and outside spaces are secure with a good fence.  

  • Do not leave doors and windows open around an unsupervised dog.  

  • Keep toxic items out of reach, e.g., cleaning products, weedkillers, chocolate, and grapes.  

  • Remove ground-level hazards, such as electrical wires, which they can trip over, chew on, or even pee on!  


Training a rescue dog  

Training a rescue dog can be a rewarding experience. Still, you will need to commit to patience and consistency, as well as having a good understanding of your dog's behaviour and needs. You should be mindful and expect a period of change.  

Often, rescue centres aren’t aware of what a dog’s past life looked like, so certain objects or sounds can trigger those who were subjected. That doesn’t make them impossible to train; it just makes the process longer and more challenging.  


Building a bond for your future together  

First and foremost, ensure that you spend plenty of time with your dog to show trust and respect. Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, and playtime, to build a positive association with you as their new owner. This part cannot be rushed!  

Each dog is different, and it can take months to years for them to be fully comfortable with you.


Be patient, and you will reap the rewards. 

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