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BigPawShop's Dog Blog

Adopting a Dog: A Guide to Dog Rescues and Adoptions

05 Feb 2023 0 Comments

Dog Rescues and Adoptions

Adopting a dog is a big responsibility, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences. When I was 23, I adopted a dog named Lucky from a local shelter who changed my life in a big way. The bond we shared is what inspired me to create It's been 10 years since that adoption, and we're still the best of friends. Lucky has brought not only joy and love but he’s also tought me compassion, patience and a lot of other life skills I couldn't have imagined. By adopting a dog in need, you are giving them a second chance at a happy and healthy life. If you're considering adopting a dog, here's a detailed guide on what you need to know.

Understanding Dog Rescues

A dog rescue is an organization that takes in dogs that are in need of a home, whether they are strays, surrendered by their owners, or saved from abusive or neglectful situations. These rescues provide temporary care for the dogs until they can be adopted into a loving forever home.

Types of Dog Rescues

Local rescues: These are smaller, community-based organizations that focus on rescuing dogs in a specific area.

An example of a local rescue would be Rosie Animal Adoption based out of Montreal. Rosie Animal Adoption is a non-profit organization based in Canada that focuses on finding loving homes for animals in need. They are dedicated to promoting the humane treatment of animals and work tirelessly to provide care, support and comfort to pets in their community through donations from the community. The organization operates through a network of volunteers and fosters, who provide temporary care for animals until they can find them permanent homes.

National rescues: These are larger organizations that have a broader reach, often working with local rescues to find homes for dogs all over the country.

An example of this type of Rescue would be the SPCA and Humane Socities. In Canada, there are 125 Humane Societies and SPCAs which employ close to 2,000 staff members, supported by an estimated 26,000 volunteers.

Breed-specific rescues: These rescues specialize in a specific breed of dog and work to place them in homes that are a good match for their breed's unique needs and personality.

There are many popular breed specific rescues in Canada. Some popular ones include:
Greyhound Pets of America - Canada

Pugalug Dog rescue

Border Collie Rescue Ontario

Adopting a Dog from a Rescue

a dog playing with a soccer ball at a local rescue

Before you adopt a dog, it's important to understand what is involved and what you can expect. Here's a step-by-step guide to the adoption process.

Research Dog Rescues

    Start by researching different dog rescues to find one that fits your needs and lifestyle. Finding the right dog rescue can be overwhelming, but there are many resources available to help. A great place to start is by visiting Canada's Guide to Dogs, which contains a robust list of rescues across the country. You can also reach out to local shelters, speak to friends, or search online for breed-specific rescues.

    Visit the Rescue

      Once you've found a rescue you're interested in, it's important to visit the facility to get a feel for the environment and meet some of the dogs. There are several benefits of visiting a dog rescue before adopting a dog, including:
      • Personal interaction with the dog: By visiting a rescue, you can meet and interact with the dogs, which helps you determine if you and the dog are a good match.
      • Learning about the dog's personality and behavior: Spending time with the dog at a rescue can give you an idea of the dog's personality and behavior, which can help you determine if they are a good fit for your family and lifestyle.
      • Access to information: Staff and volunteers at the rescue are knowledgeable about each dog's history, medical needs, and behavior, and can provide you with important information to help you make an informed decision.
      • Support and resources: Many rescues offer support and resources to help you and your new pet adjust to life together, such as training classes and behavior counseling.
      • Feel good factor: Adopting from a rescue is a rewarding experience, as you are giving a dog a second chance at a happy life, and can provide a great sense of fulfillment.


      Meet the Dogs

        This is a crucial step in the adoption process, as it will give you a chance to see if the dog is a good match for you and your family. Meeting a dog in person allows you to get a sense of their personality and behavior. It's a chance to see how they interact with you and other people, as well as other dogs (or your family) if they're present. This can give you valuable insights into whether the dog is a good fit for your home and lifestyle.

        It's also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about the dog's background, health, and behavior. The staff at the rescue or shelter will have a wealth of information about the dog and can help you determine if they're the right fit for you.

        In addition to considering your current lifestyle and home environment, it's also important to think about your future plans when adopting a dog. This is especially important if you're planning to have a baby in the near future.


        Complete an Adoption Application

          Once you've found a dog rescue and shelter that you're interested in, the next step is to start the adoption process. This typically involves making an appointment with the shelter to discuss your situation and fill out an adoption application.

          It's important to note that there are usually adoption fees which can vary, but generally include the cost of sterilization (spaying or neutering), the first set of vaccines (including rabies vaccine), and deworming treatment. For example at time of writing, the SPCA of Montreal fees include:

          • Puppy younger than eight months: $450
          • Dog eight months and older: $300
          • Compassionate adoption (for animals with medical needs): $50-150, depending on the animal’s medical needs.

          The adoption fee helps cover the costs of caring for the animals and ensuring they receive the necessary medical treatments.

          Once you've completed the adoption application, the rescue or shelter will review it to ensure that you and your dog are a good fit for each other.

          The adoption process can take some time, but it's an important step to ensure a successful transition for both you and your new pet. So be patient, follow the instructions provided by the rescue or shelter, and you'll soon be on your way to bringing your new furry friend home!


          Take Your New Family Member Home

            Congratulations! You've made the decision to adopt a dog and bring them into your life. This is an exciting time, and the beginning of a beautiful new journey with your new furry best friend. 

            It’s important to remember that your new dog may need time to adjust to their new surroundings and get used to their new family. Be patient and understanding, and provide plenty of love and affection. With a little time and patience, you and your new dog will form a strong bond and will be the best of friends in no time.

            Caring for a Newly Adopted Dog

            a woman caring for her newly adopted golden retriever

            Now that you've adopted a dog, it's time to get started on giving them the best life possible. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you start this new journey.


            Provide a Safe and Comfortable Home

              Here are some pro tips from an R+ (positive reinforcement) dog trainer to help provide a safe and comfortable home for your dog:

              • Create a designated space: Provide a space for your dog to call their own, such as a crate or a specific area in the room. This will give them a sense of security and help them feel comfortable in their new home.
              • Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and rules for your dog. This will help them understand what is expected of them and what behaviors are allowed.
              • Foster positive relationships: Encourage positive relationships between your dog and other members of the household, including other pets. This can be done through positive reinforcement training, playtime, and socialization.
              • Provide mental stimulation: Engage your dog's mind by providing mental stimulation activities, such as puzzle toys, training sessions, and interactive play. This will help prevent boredom and reduce destructive behavior.
              • Meet their physical needs: Ensure your dog has enough exercise and playtime to meet their physical needs. Regular exercise will help keep your dog healthy, happy, and well-behaved.
              • Stay positive: Use positive reinforcement training techniques, such as treats, praise, and toys, to reinforce good behavior and help your dog feel confident and comfortable. Avoid using punishment or negative reinforcement, as this can cause fear and anxiety.

              And don’t forget to stockup on low calorie treats to reward that positive behavior! 


              Establish a Routine

                Establishing a routine is crucial for helping a new dog feel comfortable and secure in their new home. A consistent routine can provide structure and predictability, reducing stress and anxiety in the dog. This includes providing regular meal times, ensuring the dog has regular potty breaks, and providing plenty of exercise and playtime. By creating a structured and predictable environment, the dog can develop a sense of security and feel more confident in their new surroundings. This can lead to a smoother transition for the dog, and help them feel like a happy and well-adjusted member of the family. 

                  To build a routine with your pup, consider the following points:

                  • Determine the best schedule for feeding, potty breaks, exercise, and playtime based on your lifestyle and the dog's needs.
                  • Ensure consistency by sticking to the same schedule as much as possible.
                  • Make sure your pup gets enough physical activity to release energy and stay healthy.
                  • Plan for regular potty breaks to help prevent accidents in the house.
                  • Incorporate training sessions into your routine to reinforce good behavior and build a strong bond.
                  • Provide regular playtime to stimulate the pup's mind and strengthen the bond with you.
                  • Be flexible and adjust the routine as needed to accommodate changes in the pup's needs or changes in your lifestyle. 


                  Get Them Checked Out by a Vet

                    As soon as possible, take your new dog to the vet for a check-up. This will give you a better understanding of their overall health and any potential issues that need to be addressed. The vet can also provide you with a schedule for vaccinations, flea and tick preventatives, and other necessary treatments.


                      Provide Plenty of Love and Attention

                        Your new dog will need plenty of love and attention as they adjust to their new life. Spend time with them, play with them, and make sure they know they're loved. Building a strong bond with your dog requires effort and dedication from both you and your pet. Some ways to build a better bond with your dog include:
                          1. Spending time together: Regularly spend time with your dog through activities such as playing, exercising, training or even going on a walk together.
                          2. Positive reinforcement training: Use positive reinforcement techniques to train your dog and reinforce good behavior.
                          3. Consistency: Provide consistency in your approach to training and day-to-day interactions with your dog. Something like working on teaching them new tricks and routinely going over tricks you’ve taught in the past is a great way to bond. 
                          4. Physical affection: Offer physical affection such as petting, cuddling, and belly rubs to show your love and affection.
                          5. Mental stimulation: Provide mental stimulation through activities such as training, puzzle toys, or new experiences to challenge your dog.
                          6. Proper nutrition and exercise: Ensure your dog is getting the proper nutrition and exercise needed to stay healthy and happy.
                          7. Understanding body language: Learn to understand your dog's body language and respond appropriately. 


                          Basic Training

                            Basic obedience training will help your dog feel more comfortable and confident in their new surroundings. This can include training in basic commands such as sit, stay, and come, as well as potty training. Some Dogs love learning new tricks while some just want to veg-out so it’s important to remember the key point above about body language and going with the flow of your pup and you.

                              Training your dog for modeling can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Our dog, Lucky, has been trained as our in-house model and he absolutely loves it! He's been able to hone his natural posing abilities and is always eager to show off his skills.

                              One of the ways we've made this training experience enjoyable for Lucky is by using low calorie treats as incentives. During our photo shoots, Lucky is constantly being rewarded with his favorite treats by Einstein Pets for striking the perfect pose. This positive reinforcement helps keep him motivated and excited about his modeling work too!

                              Lucky Posing for his portrait on Mount Royal, Montreal QC.


                              Adopting a dog from a rescue can be a life-changing experience filled with love, joy, and fulfillment. It's important to do your research and find the right rescue that fits your needs and lifestyle. By visiting the rescue, meeting the dogs, and completing an adoption application, you can ensure that you and your new furry friend are a good match and will have a happy life together.

                              Adopting a dog isn't too complicated if you follow the steps and do your research so we hope that this information has helped you with understanding that process and that it may have inspired you to take action and bring a furry friend into your life, for life! 

                              BigPawShop Team Signature

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