A “Rescue” Dog

A rescue dog can be any breed, any age.

They all have a history, which may or may not be known.

They are unwanted, lost, found and usually untrained.

Friend for Life, or Project for Life?

Well meaning people adopt a rescue dog, but when it doesn’t work out, the dog ends up back in a system of stress and uncertainty. The dog isn’t really rescued at all.

Please don’t be pressured into adopting a dog if you have your heart set on a pup. If you prefer to buy a dog from a reputable breeder, that is your choice & a perfectly reasonable one. There are many good reasons for choosing a pure bred dog and temperament & predictability of behaviour are amongst them, although there can be variations within individual breeds.

Ask the rescue organisation …..


  • Why was the dog given up?
  • Has a qualified behaviour professional assessed the dog?
  • Is the dog registered with a local council or to the organisation?
  • Owner history – if multiple owners/adoptions, ask why?


  • Is the dog vaccinated? – view certificate
  • What health problems does the dog have – will it cost you a lot in medications or treatments?
  • Adopt locally. Flying animals from interstate can be stressful & may cause anxiety & behavioural issues.


  • Around children – nervous, confident, boisterous, aggressive?
  • Around other dogs – friendly, fearful, apprehensive, barking?
  • Resource Guarding – does the dog growl/snarl if approached while eating, playing with toys or in bed?
  • Fearful behaviour – around children, men, women, other animals, noises, storms, smells etc
  • Is there an assessment from a behaviour professional?


  • What steps has the organisation taken to train or rehabilitate the dog?
  • Toilet training –the dog may be toilet trained, but not necessarily in your home. It is highly likely you will need to revisit toilet training.
  • What training has the dog had & does it understand any cues, ie sit, drop, stay, come, etc?
  • Will the rescue organisation assist with training and/or costs?

Legal Stuff

  • Will the organisation take the dog back if there are any problems, ie aggression towards children, issues with other pets & animals etc? In recent times a well known rescue organization allegedly refused to take a dog back after it had bitten a child during a trial period.
  • Can you foster the dog for a week or so on a trial period?
  • Who’s responsible? Is the dog yours? – We have heard some odd stories about rescue groups trying to maintain ownership after a sale & transfer of documents! Clarify the situation BEFORE you take the dog & have agreement in writing.
  • If you have paid for the dog, signed transfer paperwork, registered the dog with your local council and transferred microchip ownership details, the dog is yours and you are responsible for it. However most responsible rescue organisations would agree to assist in some way should your circumstances change.

Need Assistance? – Give us a call or locate a qualified professional on the Pet Professional Guild Australia or Delta Society Australia websites.

Choosing a family dog, whether it is a puppy or an older dog is a huge decision that comes with costs, commitment and adjustments to your home and family circumstances. The effort you put into choosing your new family member will be rewarding for both you and your dog!

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