The question of whether to rescue a dog in need or buy a puppy is a question which I get asked a lot. And the right answer is this – get whichever dog is right for you and your circumstances.
Some people are staunchly against getting puppies, the argument being that there are too many dogs that need rescuing to ever justify buying a puppy. And whilst there are far too many dogs that need rescuing, a rescue dog is not for everyone.
On top of that, puppies still need to be bought. If we rescued all the rescue dogs (which are all neutered by the shelters), and all puppy breeders stopped breeding because we stopped buying them, we’d end up with no dogs within a generation! And that would be a very sad world indeed.
Also, rescue dogs can be difficult. They could come with behavioural issues, and these issues may not always be known by the shelter. It can take months for a rescue dog to relax enough to become their true self in a new environment, and shelters just don’t have the resources to assess all the dogs they care for properly. With a rescue dog you can get anything from a full history to zero history.
Another good reason to get a puppy is this – they are very cute! A puppy in the house is a constant bundle of fun, creating happy memories for you, and your children if you have them. Most of us have happy childhood memories of the family puppy, and there is nothing wrong with creating those memories for your children as well.
But rescuing a dog in need can be incredibly rewarding. You are giving a home to a living creature, a creature who just doesn’t have the capacity to understand what it did wrong to be one of the dogs without a home. You will get to watch them come out of their shell, and see the change in their personality as they realise that they have a human, and they have a house, and how happy they become with this realisation.
The behavioural issues a rescue can come with are often challenging, but no behavioural issue is unfixable. If you find the trigger to those issues, and find the right way to talk to your dog, and you are patient, you can always help your dog feel happier about any situation than they currently do. I have worked with countless rescues, and if the owners put in the work and give their dog time, any issue can be overcome.
So, don’t feel guilty for getting a puppy instead of a rescue, and don’t worry about missing out on the fun a puppy brings if you get a rescue a dog – each journey is equally rewarding for you and your new best friend.