Living with a Rescue Dog


 Click on the cover above to go to this book at

The Dog's Trust, founded in 1891 and formerly known as the National Canine Defence League, is one of the most well-established and respected rescue and welfare charities in the UK and re-homes in excess of 9000 dogs per year.

Recent television programmes have highlighted the plight of the 'rescue' dog and the sad lives that some of these dogs have suffered, though in actual fact the majority of dogs that end up in rescue shelters have not been physically abused, but are simply victims of impulsive purchasing without careful research, and their owners changes in circumstance.

None-the-less, it is obviously very distressing for a dog to find himself in shelter kennels, and 'Living with a Rescue Dog' seeks to explain to people considering re-homing a dog of the importance of researching to make sure you choose a dog appropriate for your circumstances. The book also provides a brief guide to breed specific characteristic and talks about the commitment and responsibilities that new owners will be taking on, and the special issues that a shelter dog may have.

For example it may well be that the dogs bought by people who had not properly considered the commitment involved in pet ownership, have missed out on some vital socialisation so may well be nervous around men, people in hats etc - not because they have been abused by men or people in hats. It is much easier to socialise a puppy, but it is certainly quite possible to socialise an adult dog, you will just have to be a little more patient and be prepared that it could be a long and gradual process.

I liked the fact that along side information on their own organisation, they also offered information on the other welfare charities including independent and breed specific rescue for people looking for a particular breed of dog, and the sort of requirements and adoption procedures you could expect from them.

The book goes into good detail on choosing your dog and settling him in, including introducing him to cats and other existing pets, as well as friends and family, but I think that they could have mentioned a little more about how you should be prepared for his character to change a little as he settles in and finds his feet.

In my own experience, it is often hard to see the dog's true character as newly adopted shelter dog. Generally, at first he might be very well behaved because he is a little unsure of the rules in your house, then as he starts to feel more confident, he might try to push the rules to see how much he can get away with, and once he realises the boundaries, will start to show you his true character.

So long as you remain patient and consistent, and you are not tempted to bend the rules and 'spoil' him by offering him too much extra leniency out of pity, or in order to make up for his sad past, he'll soon appreciate his place in your home. You'll be amazed at how quickly your dog seems to 'forget' all that has happened before and becomes part of your own family, as if he'd been there forever.

If you are looking to adopt a shelter dog for the first time, particularly if you have not owned a dog previously or you have not owned a dog of your own for several years, you will find this book very useful. The socialisation and training advice this book provides should certainly get you off to a good start. Once he has settled in, you might want to look at doing more with your dog, or you might find that he has a particularly challenging character such as being particularly shy or energetic, so you might want to supplement this book with some of the specialised training books we have available.


Review by Diana Attwood.