Every weekend during adoptions here at Lifeline Puppy Rescue we get very good questions from people just like you who are looking for a potential furry addition to their family. Here is a guide for you and your friends and family on how to pick the best rescue puppy or shelter puppy for your family!
What is your daily lifestyle?
Here at Lifeline Puppy Rescue we adopt puppies from ages 8 weeks to a year old. Adopting a dog in this age range comes with a large and varying time commitment compared to a dog that’s over 1 year old. The rule of thumb for the time a puppy can hold their bladder is 1 hour for every month old, plus one. For example if you adopt a 2 month old puppy, they need to be allowed to relieve their bladders every 3 hours. As the puppy gets older this time commitment will lessen. Keep in mind this varies by puppy but most puppies will be able to sleep through an 8 hour night by 5 or 6 months of age.
What is your activity level?
If you are a runner, you will want to rescue a high energy breed or mix. Cattle dogs, australian shepherds, labs are all very good breeds. If you stay home more often than not, and can’t see yourself walking your dog twice a day then an older dog would be better for you than a puppy. This brings us to an important topic.
Puppy versus older dog
All of the dogs available for adoption here at Lifeline Puppy Rescue are puppies which came from kill shelters. There are other local shelters which have primarily older dogs. Older dogs should be adopted if you do not have the time for raising a puppy, or have a lifestyle where you cannot see yourself walking your dog twice a day.
What if you have a big backyard do you still need to walk your dog?
When dogs stay in the same environment everyday just like you and me they will get bored. Boredom will lead your good dog to be a bad dog. Taking a walk will allow your dog to exercise their instincts of marking their environments and exploring their “territory”, and lead to a tired puppy at the end of the day. Dogs who are not stimulated will build bad or destructive habits in order to relieve their pent up energy such as chewing on your furniture, tearing up your house, or barking at things or people for no reason.
Designer breed versus mixed mutt
Designer dogs are usually pure bred for certain qualities. It is not their fault they are bred in this way and I truly feel sadness when I see these pups in little glass cases at pet stores. If there is a type or breed of dog in particular that you are looking for then I won’t dog on you (pun intended), but it is my experience and we hear these stories everyday about irresponsible breeding practices resulting in dogs that are fear aggressive because they have never been handled, dogs that have a hip dysplasia, eye problems, breathing issues, heart murmurs, etc. The only thing I can recommend to you if you are searching for a purposely bred dog is to see the parents of the dog, get to know your breeders before you purchase an animal from them.
For obvious reasons we feel that mixed mutts are the best. You are taking a leap of faith on size, breed, and background but mixed mutts are not bred on purpose and they need willing families which can accept them the way they are.
What kind of family do you have? Do you have kids? What ages?
We would ask you in this section to consider your family and the best dog for you. If you have kids under the age of 12 your furry family member is going to consider them as siblings. This means they will try to play with your kids just as if they are playing with other puppies. It’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone. If you do not plan to consistently train your puppy in the appropriate way to treat your kids, expect that there will be some instances where your puppy, especially as they are growing, will nip your children. This is one of the many reasons your dog should be formally trained when they are puppies as this is a bigger issue with a 60-90 pound dog that has never been consistently and properly corrected. We stress to families of puppies and bigger dogs that these interactions should be supervised at all times.
Do you have elderly family members?
If you live with elderly family members this is an important consideration because bigger dogs can get excited and pull, push, scratch, or jump on your elderly family members. Smaller breeds are good for families with aging parents. If adopting from a puppy rescue, you can determine which dogs will be smaller by adopting a dog that is already 4-6 months old, rather than trying to guess if an 8 week old puppy will become a Saint Bernard.
Solutions to your problems, before they are problems
Consistent and early training is critical to the life and harmony of your family. There are many different types of training which will successfully train your puppy to be the best dog possible. With early training you will head off a lot bad habits and develop a relationship with a trainer in the case your puppy develops any other unwanted habits. I will say again that properly exercised dogs are good dogs, and that should be something you strive maintain is a regular level of exercise that will keep your puppy healthy and happy.
What kind of income do you have?
Here at Lifeline Puppy Rescue we don’t believe you should have to be a millionaire to responsibly own a pet. It is however important to keep in mind that puppies do not have fully functioning immune systems and do not get their full immune systems until they are 4-6 months old. With spay and neuter, a complete vaccine regimen, and checkups, the healthcare costs of purchasing a puppy can be high. To avoid expensive veterinary costs adopt a puppy over 4 months old who is already spay or neutered and you will eliminate the potential of paying costly overnight hospitalizations for common puppy illnesses like parvo, parasites, or respiratory illnesses.
Start a relationship with a low cost veterinary clinic in your area. There are a few around Denver and we recommend Animal Health Care Specialists in North Denver. We recommend checking out any low cost spay or neuter clinics for reputation and credibility before booking a surgery, or checking with your local rescue or shelter for low cost vaccines or vaccination clinics.