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13 Mistakes When Adopting A Rescue Dog (2023 Guide)

Adopting Rescue Dog Mistakes

Oh, to receive companionship from a rescue dog…

And moreover, to provide it as well…

But, it’s not an easy experience.

That’s because it won’t be faultless.

So, what are some mistakes that you might make? And how will you avoid them?

Continue reading to discover:

  • 3 things to do during your rescue dog’s adjustment period.
  • 3 lifestyle questions you should ask yourself before adopting a dog.
  • 13 common mistakes when adopting a rescue dog (and how to prevent them).
  • And many more…

13 common mistakes when adopting a rescue dog

#1: Disregarding the warnings

Rescue dogs will have different backstories.

And whatever background they have, the rescue staff will tell you.

Oh, and expect the staff to be 100% honest…

So, be fully ready to hear everything.

Then, you must know the dog’s backstory by heart.

Moreover, the pup’s past might affect their personality and behavior.

With that, take note of everything that the staff will disclose.

They’ll let you know of every possible issue that might be of trouble.

And when that happens, the staff isn’t being discouraging…

As I said, they’re just being totally honest by warning you.


It’s necessary…

So that you won’t be shocked when the dog you take home is this or that….

All in all, it sets the right expectation…

Did you know? In 2 out of 5 adoptions, a new dog parent will make a call out of worry.

And what’s the main reason?

They’ll say that the dog is showing unwanted behaviors.

But the rescue staff have already warned them about those.

That’s what Stephani Petofi, a staff of Wizards of Paws Rescue, stated.

With that, I highly suggest mindfully listening to the staff.

They’re the best person to extract the right information about the dogs…

That’s because they recognize the specific needs of every canine there. They know the puppers’ histories and dispositions best.

Read also: 7 Reasons Why It’s So Hard To Adopt A Dog From A Rescue

#2: Failing to consider your lifestyle

Failing To Consider Your Lifestyle Is A Common Mistake When Adopting A Rescue Dog

In adopting a rescue dog, you must remember this crucial thing:

Your future dog didn’t sign up for any of this.

And yet, here they are being affected by the decision.

So, make sure you’re making the right one for you and your potential canine.

With that, you have to highly consider your lifestyle before adopting a rescue dog.

Such can affect the life that your future dog will face…

Moreover, your lifestyle is one factor of compatibility with a pooch.

So, what are such considerations to think of?

Let me talk about some common examples…

Can your space accommodate a dog?

Consider if your place will allow your future canine.

And it’s not just gonna be up to your landlord…

You should also think about the space that’ll accommodate your pooch.

Also, ask yourself a question like:

“Is my space large enough for a dog this size?”

The answer to that question and the like will impact your dog’s stay with you.

Do you spend more time outside than at home?

You’ve got a full-time job, and you’ve been building your career…

Are you sure that your life can handle an addition?

Moreover, that addition requires time and commitment.

So, you can still go to your full-time job…

But you’ll also need to attend to this loving pup.

That’s why staying late in the office is no longer an ideal choice.

It’s because a sweet and needy pupper will be waiting for you at home.

So, are you willing to take on that change?

Will you be willing to build routines with your dog?

Dogs are animals that are best with a routine.

That’s why you should provide them with the following:

  • Regular exercise.
  • Scheduled meals.
  • Frequent playdates.
  • Habitual adventures.

Those are the things that should have space in your schedule.

#3: Underestimating the future costs

Did you know? AHS reveals that the return rate of adoption is about 10%.

That number has been steady since the year 2020.

Now, unfortunately, there’s this one leading reason why dogs get returned after adoption…

It’s how potential dog parents underestimate the long-term costs of having a dog.

First of all, adopting can already cost you money.

But the expenses won’t stop there…

With that, you have to look at your budget honestly.

See if you can afford to give the best life to a fur baby.

Assess that by considering the costs of the following necessities:

NeedsEstimated cost ($)Estimated cost (€, £)
Monthly dog food$40 to $70€35 (£30) to €60 (£52)
Grooming care (per service)$25 to $50€22 (£18) to €44 (£37)
Vaccinations$75 to $100€66 (£55) to €88 (£74)
Boarding fee (per night)$20 to $50€18 (£15) to €44 (£37)
Crate$30 to $500€26 (£22) to €440 (£369)
Dog bed$15 to $300€13 (£11) to €264 (£220)
Health insurance (monthly)$20 to $80€18 (£15) to €70 (£59)
Routine vet visits(per checkup)$50 to $250€44 (£18) to €220 (£185)

And remember, that won’t be everything…

For example, grooming care will depend on their breed. Some dogs are low-maintenance, while others are high-maintenance.

Moreover, their health condition will vary. 

And so, the vet bills will really depend and can end up costing more than you expect…

That’s why I highly suggest getting health insurance for your pooch. 

In the future, it can help you with sudden vet bills.

All in all, never underestimate the long-term costs of taking care of a dog.

#4: Not asking your questions

Unfortunately, staffs in the shelter confirm this is a common occurrence.

Some potential dog parents will avoid asking questions…

And those adopters will do so even if they have a lot to ask.


Staff says this is an attempt to go along with everything they say.

Some adopters will just agree and agree…

They do so in the hopes of taking home their desired pup as soon as they can.

Now, rescue staffs highly discourage this.

In fact, they’d appreciate it if you wrote down your questions. Then, ask them those queries whenever possible.

And they’ll be more than glad to enlighten you on things.

Your inquiries mean that you’re taking this matter as seriously as it is.

So, remember:

Ask as many questions as you like. It’ll be the best for you and your future pooch.

#5: Snubbing the rescue staff’s inputs

Other times, dog parents don’t fail to ask.

They extract every answer that they wanna get…

But they still forget this one thing…

And it’s to listen to the staff’s suggestions.

Sadly, some adopters have set their decisions as final.

However, the person assisting you can have a lot more recommendations.

And if they do, you’d have to listen to them. Moreover, highly consider their inputs.


The staffs know the rescue dogs best.

They know their backstories and temperament.

For the dogs, the staffs aren’t strangers. And it goes the other way as well.

But for you, you’re an outsider to a dog as they’re a stranger to you.

So, it’s best to listen to the staff’s suggestions.

For example, some will recommend another dog to you…

A canine that’s different from what you wanted. But this one might be more compatible with you.

Now, know that their suggestions mean well. 

Plus, they’re only looking after you and your future pup.

So when they say this pupper is more fitting for your lifestyle….

You must be all ears.

#6: Miscalculating the required work

Adopting a dog is a lifelong commitment…

With that, the work won’t ever end with them.

So, don’t underestimate that as well.

Moreover, some expect the dog to no longer needs that much work.

For example, you’re adopting an adult pooch.

With that, you predict that they’ve already been trained and socialized.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to continue doing such.

Dogs need to push with their training and socialization throughout their lives.

Moreover, you’re bound to see a few unwanted behaviors in rescue dogs.

One of which is…

Possessive aggression

Here’s how the VCA Hospitals define this behavior:

It’s a type of hostility towards others who approaches the dog’s possessions.

Now, why do rescue dogs tend to act this way?

You see, they developed this behavior during their stay in the shelter.

Rescue dogs don’t have a lot of belongings.

Plus, whatever they have, they share with other dogs.

With that, they become possessive of things that are solely theirs.

That’s why some dog parents report their rescues are obsessed with food.

Note: This is often interchangeable with resource guarding.

Moreover, research recognizes this cause of confusion. 

So, they gathered data on what the people preferred.

Findings show the majority prefer the term resource guarding over-possessive aggression.

Reading tip: 25 Best Ways To Calm An Aggressive Dog (#1 Works Instantly)

#7: Rushing the adjustment period

Not all dogs are the same…

They have different personalities and temperaments.

That’s why some rescue stories get to the happily ever after fast.

Then, others take quite a long time to finally call it a success story.

That’s because dogs differ in their adjustment periods as well.

And whatever pace your rescue dog is in, don’t ever rush them.

Such is a common miscalculation when taking a rescue dog home.

Sure, many dog parents attest that the adjustment period takes a week.

But that isn’t a fixed frequency…

It’ll always depend on your pooch.

So, what can you do?

Here are 3 things that you can practice:

Introduce them slowly

Introduce Them Slowly

PetMD tells us there are proper ways to introduce a dog.

You see, you can’t just present your dog to anyone anytime.

When letting your pooch meet another canine, it’s not gonna be simple.

You have to let them meet in a neutral place. 

Then, make sure they’re on a leash.

Moreover, watch both dogs ‘ body language as they get to know each other.

That’ll indicate if they’re happy or uncomfortable with the interaction.

As for meeting other people…

You see, the dog should do the introduction themself.

Your pooch should be the one to come to the person on their initiative.

So, just follow your pupper’s pace, and they won’t get overwhelmed.

Learn to read their body language

You can’t directly communicate with your future pooch…

With that, you must learn to read their body language.

According to research, dogs make use of body language.

Moreover, they utilize their whole body in doing so.

Remain patient

I say so again and again…

This isn’t an easy process…

And it’s gonna take a lot of time before you reap the rewards.

But, you’ll get there with your pooch.

Soon enough, you’ll both love each other so much, it hurts.

Just remain patient with your rescue dog and be understanding of their situation.

All these changes can be overwhelming, so let them take their time.

Continue reading: Adopting A Rescue Dog: The First 7 Days [Checklist]

#8: Expecting all dogs to get along

As I said earlier, you’d have to properly introduce a dog to another.

That’s because not all dogs instantly click with each other.

So, don’t expect that your resident dog will immediately get along with the rescue.

That’ll be asking for too much from both canines.

Now, what can you do?

Still follow the instructions on introducing the dogs to each other.

If they hit it off, then that’s a good start.

But even if they did, you must transition them both properly.

And do so by putting them on separate parts of the house for a while.

Moreover, keep their interactions short. Then, that shouldn’t be a forced interaction.

It’ll be best if one of the others initiates it.

And while it’s going on, closely observe how each dog reacts.

You might also want to know: Why is my dog suddenly aggressive to our other dog?

#9: Being always available

Imagine this:

You’ve finally taken home your rescue dog.

And to attend to them, you’ve taken a few days off of work.

With that, you’re gonna be 100% available for your pooch.

Now, I know that your gesture means well…

But you shouldn’t always be available for your fur baby.

And that’s applicable even during their adjustment period.

Because what if it’s time to go back to work?

Then, your pooch is gonna wonder why you’re suddenly gone for the whole day.

They’ll develop stress and sudden separation anxiety.

According to ASPCA, such can lead to destructive behaviors. 

Some examples are chewing at your clothes or scratching the furniture.

Moreover, always being there can cause them to be clingy all of a sudden. 

So whenever you’re around, they’ll show many attention-seeking behaviors. Those are:

So what can you do?

You must practice being out of their sight for brief moments.

So, you can leave the house for a while. 

And once you get home, observe how they’ll react to your arrival.

Moreover, also take notice of the place’s condition.

Reading tip: 15 “Home Alone” Dog Breeds With Low Separation Anxiety

#10: Going big too soon

As I said, all these changes can be overwhelming for the dog…

So, don’t do anything big yet.

I mentioned earlier that you should be careful with introductions.

So, skip the welcome wagon and just settle your pooch in your house calmly.

Moreover, respect your dog’s pace and remain patient.

Now, you can still take them on walks. But keep it short and do it around a calm spot in your neighborhood.

And as much as possible, don’t take them to the dog park for a while.

Then, plan your first hike only after a month or so.

Just make sure that everything with their adjustment goes smoothly first.

#11: Acting too familiar

A lot of new dog parents forget about this fact:

You’re still a stranger to your rescue dog.

It’s quite a disappointing reality…

But that’ll change after a while.

You just have to wait…

And while you do, don’t act too familiar.

Let the dog come to you and start most of the interactions.

Lastly, avoid coddling them with too much attention and activities.

#12: Giving them too much freedom

When taking home a rescue dog, they should settle on one spot only.

Moreover, there should be boundaries set.

That’s why I suggest putting up a baby gate.

Wait, you don’t have much space for that?

Well, you can also try putting them in a dog crate.

Now, such a practice is essential…


That’s because you shouldn’t give them much freedom during the first few days.

If you do, it might result in trouble.

You see, you don’t know how well they’re potty trained.

Moreover, you might’ve been warned of specific issues. 

You know how they’ll react to this or that…

But you haven’t experienced it firsthand in your home.

And by limiting their freedom, any issues will be easier to control.

#13: Handling it all on your own

Don’t be afraid of seeking assistance when it comes to dealing with your rescue dog.

Staffs in the shelter attest that this is a usual mistake. And that you can unintentionally make this.

As implied, this whole process isn’t an easy one.

You’ll need to commit your time and energy to this fully.

Moreover, a living creature is involved.

And whatever decisions you make, they’ll affect your pup’s whole life.

So if you seem a little lost…

I suggest that you ask for help from animal behaviorists.

They got your best interest at heart.

And they’re willing to help you in this exciting and fulfilling journey of adopting a dog.