Sourcing the Second-hand Dog: Finding the Right Pet

March 21, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

These potential issues must be explored thoroughly with the former carer before taking a dog home. The choice of the individual dog is influenced by personal taste, but do exercise logic in your decisions. Don’t bring an active breed into a home that can’t offer much exercise or a fragile breed into a boisterous home with lively children. Read books on the breed, or parent breeds if a mongrel or crossbred, and talk to owners to make sure you know what to expect in terms of temperament and exercise and food requirements.

Beginning the search with an idea of what you want, where do you go next?

Friends and Family

Someone close to you may be looking to re-home their dog due to a change of circumstances. This can be ideal as you will know the dog and its history, but may cause tension as the previous owner will remain in both your lives with their own opinions on how their former pet should be kept. The dog may find it hard to sever ties with a previous owner it sees regularly and patience will be required.

Paper Ads

Local papers carry adverts for adult dogs seeking new homes, for various reasons. Exercise caution, as the former home may not always be truthful. Beware of issues such as destructiveness, aggression and failed toilet training being hidden. Always ask, if the dog is so great, why do they want to get rid of it? Try and see how it reacts in many different situations, expect the owner to be concerned about the dog’s new home and be wary of anyone happy to just hand you the lead and wave you both off.

Rescue Shelters

A rescue dog can be a rewarding pet, but organisations have various requirements to be met before allowing their dogs to go to new homes. Some are stricter than others, and some families may find that they do not meet the criteria for one but are accepted by another. The dog is more likely to have a minimal history, and abused or neglected dogs often show the mental scars of their ordeal. Reputable centres will tell you everything they have learned about the dog since it has been in their care and help and support the dog’s new family once it goes home.

Breed Rescues

Like rescue shelters breed rescues will have criteria to be met by prospective new owners of their dogs. They may also have waiting lists for more popular breeds, but if you have your heart set on a particular breed and would like to rescue a dog, they are well worth contacting.


Established show or working kennels occasionally re-home their adult dogs after their retirement from the ring or their jobs. Approach breeders to offer a home but expect them to be very concerned about where their dog will go and to cross-examine you as thoroughly as they would any puppy buyer.

In general remember to ask lots of questions about the dog, it’s like and dislikes, it’s experiences and any behavioural problems. Expect to be asked a lot of questions and worry about anyone anxious to be rid of a dog. Be honest about the home you can offer, and remember, if you are being turned down by all contacts, you need to ask yourself if you really can give any dog a suitable home, or must wait for your circumstances to change.

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