5 Ridiculous Myths About Rescue Dogs

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic

Don’t believe the negative myths you hear about rescue dogs – we take a look at 5 common misconceptions

You’ve heard the rumors and myths surrounding rescue dogs, and they may have prevented you from adopting one of these furry fellows. People want to be sure when welcoming a new four-legged family member, and seeing all these false facts about dogs from shelters can make them vary from opting for a rescue pooch. We get that.

But the problem is that these are mostly just myths- rescue dogs are as much worthy of adoption and as lovely as their luckier fellows whose fate wasn’t to end up in a shelter. We’re here to clear up some of the popular misconceptions and show you why bringing home a rescue dog may be the right choice for you.

Dogs end up in a shelter because of behavior problems

There are many reasons why a dog ends up at a shelter. Perhaps the owner died or moved somewhere that wouldn’t allow pets. It could have been a stray or born on the streets when it was found and brought in. Or perhaps the previous owner just didn’t have the time or patience to dedicate to a dog.

Each dog breed is different with its own strengths, quirks, and needs. It’s possible that the original owner failed to do the research to know what they were getting into before bringing their dog home only to find that it wasn’t a good fit. For example, many German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois dogs are purchased because they are cute, and people love how sharp they look in their roles working with police and the military. But these dogs don’t stay small and cute for long! They are great dogs, but they require a lot of exercise and training.

Real behavioral issues usually make up a small portion of rescue dogs in a shelter, and it won’t ever be concealed issue. Dogs with severe behavioral issues or aggressive dogs won’t be adoptable in the first place. Many rescues team up with animal behaviorists and trainers who donate their time to work with the dogs that are most in need, addressing their issues and helping to transform them into incredible pets. Even those that have been through this process won’t be adopted out by a reputable rescue without full transparency regarding the dog’s history and what has been done to help him.

Those who need a bit of help with minor behaviors, such as those that are still not fully housebroken, or for example, dogs with separation anxiety will only be offered to experienced adopters. Rescues are also a wealth of information and connections to those that can help your dog adapt to their new home. If you are an experienced adopter and interested in taking on the challenge of a dog that may have some quirks to address, consider asking about recommendations for local trainers. In the meantime, a lot of the dogs from rescues work with volunteers and staff, or are enrolled in various programs that help them become perfect pets before going to a new home.

There are no purebred dogs at the shelter

Shelters have its share of mutts (and we have nothing again mutts – we love them to bits), but you’ll find that about a quarter of the rescue dogs are purebred. Unfortunately, many people don’t inform themselves about a certain breed before buying so a good percentage of purebred dogs gets abandoned after they realize they are not a good fit. As a result, there are plenty of organizations out there that focus on just one breed or type of dog.

If you have your heart set on a purebred, you should try a breed-specific rescue group. Just Google your favorite breed, along with the term “rescue group” and a location (city, state, province, country) and you’ll be treated to a list of breed-specific dog rescues close to you. Alternatively, you could ask around your local shelter and see if any dogs of your preferred breed were surrendered and put up for adoption. If you really want to focus on one breed, it will make the search a bit more complex than it usually would, but it in no way has to mean that you have to resort to buying over adopting.

Is there a breed that you have always wanted to own but have no previous experience with? If so, you may be wondering if it will even be a good fit for your family and your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to contact breed-specific organizations, ask questions, and be honest about any reasons that you may be hesitant. These individuals are experts in their breed of choice and can help provide you with the information needed to make an educated choice.

Rescue dogs are unhealthy and sick

Again, another untruth. Dogs that are taken in by shelters are given a complete health exam by a veterinarian before being put up for adoption. If a dog does have any medical problems, you’ll be told about them upfront. It’s not the goal of a shelter or a rescue to profit on their dogs so they would try and deceive you, like dubious pet stores or puppy mills would. Their interest is to place the dog in a home where they would thrive, and that’s certainly not possible if they conceal an underlying medical issue from the dog’s future owners.

The majority of shelter dogs are already vetted by a veterinarian, spayed or neutered, up to date on their shots, and more often than not, dewormed, tested for heartworm, and protected from parasites such as fleas and ticks. Dogs that have immediate medical needs are taken care of being placed for adoption. This could include surgery on a broken or fractured limb, amputation, or heartworm treatment among other medical concerns. If it’s something that will be ongoing, a reputable rescue will support you moving forward with your dog. For example, they may send your dog home during heartworm treatment if you can offer a suitable environment for the dog’s treatment. But they will provide the medications necessary throughout the process.

Abused rescue dogs don’t make good pets

People who think this are sorely mistaken. A dog that’s been abused has so much love to give. When they realize they are safe in their new home, they will blossom and the depth of their affection will blow you away. They have been shown first-hand how horrible life can be and, in time, will recognize the incredible differences between their previous life and the life that you have offered.

These dogs can make a full emotional recovery in the right home, as long as you provide the right care and attention. In fact, an abused dog is so happy to be rescued you’ll find that your new pooch is often much more attached and loyal to you and your family. After suffering at the hands of people who were cruel, rescue dogs know how to appreciate kindness and love even more than you’d expect. Truly, there’s nothing like the love and devotion that a rescue dog gives you. They are thankful with every fiber of their being and will not be shy about showing it.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

That’s the biggest misconception out there! For ages, people have been spreading false information about how only puppies can be fully trained and that dogs that have a few years behind them are somehow unable to grow, learn, or adapt. That’s simply not true. Older rescue dogs in shelters will impress you with their ability to learn, in fact. Dogs are incredibly adaptable. A senior or an adult dog will be eager to please you same as a puppy would- more, in fact.

All they need is some guidance, patience, love and leadership from you. Once they have that, prepare to be amazed at how fast your dog picks up new habits and tricks. It’s really all about you. If you have the patience and the skills to teach your new dog manners, they are definitely more than able to pick up on it. Age is just a number in this case!

In terms of basic obedience and adopting an adult or senior dog may offer you a leg up. Many of these dogs went through some degree of training during their past life and will carry the lessons that they have learned into their future with you. For example, adult dogs will usually come to you fully housebroken. They may understand commands like “sit”, “down”, or “stay”. Many are also comfortable walking on a leash and have been taught some leash manners. This will give you a solid foundation that you can build upon, helping your dog learn to be the companion that you’ve always wanted.

What myths or rumors have you heard about rescue dogs? Do you have a wonderful experience to share about your rescue dog? Please share them in the comments section below.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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