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Six myths busted about adopting a dog

Australia is a dog-loving country. There are around 4.8 million pet dogs in Australia1 with nearly half of the respondents surveyed for the Real Insurance Pets research stating they own a dog and that they spend an average of 47 hours per week quality time with them.2 But because so many homes bring dogs into their lives, there are unfortunately tens of thousands of pets that end up in shelters every year.

In a recent survey, more than 45,000 dogs were received in a single year by the RSPCA alone. But that figure is only a drop in the bucket when you consider all the other dog-rescue groups around Australia.3

Thankfully, there’s a positive movement in the pet market for adopting rescue animals – and of those 45,000 dogs that were rescued by the RSPCA, nearly 40,000 of them were reclaimed or rehomed.4

If you’re thinking about getting a pet for your home, adoption is an avenue to explore. Here are some of the common myths about rescue dogs – busted. Or, download our free checklist: Six things to consider before adopting a rescue dog.

Myth 1: It’s better to get a puppy instead of an adult dog

There is no ‘better’ age for a dog, as both puppies and adult dogs have their pros and cons. Remember that there will be far more adult dogs than puppies at a rescue shelter, but if you’re still keen on a puppy consider the following:

A puppy may:

  • Be untrained.
  • Need lots of socialisation.
  • Require toilet training.
  • Incur additional costs like early-age vet visits, puppy school, and puppy-specific food.

An adult dog may:

  • Already know basic commands (sit, stay, come), be social and toilet trained.
  • Be confident around other dogs and humans.
  • Have anxiety or aggression issues, depending on their background.
  • Incur additional costs if they require adult training.

The final decision rests with you, and it depends on how much time you have to dedicate to your new animal. While most adult dogs won’t need constant attention, a puppy shouldn’t be left at home for extended periods – especially in the initial weeks and months.

Myth 2: It’s cheaper than buying a dog from a breeder

It’s true that most rescue centres aim to provide a ‘full package’ service to those wanting to adopt, as it’s in the best interest of the pets and their new families. Many animals will be adopted already vaccinated, microchipped and desexed. This can alleviate a lot of the additional costs that come with buying a puppy from a breeder.5

However, you need to consider the costs of a dog over the course of their lives. Buying a dog from a rescue organisation will almost always be cheaper (approximately $390 for an adult, $435 for a puppy and less for senior dogs).6 On the other hand, a puppy – especially a purebred – can cost thousands of dollars (English Bulldogs can cost over $3,500)7, and a lot of purebreds have inherent problems that can mean you’re visiting the vet regularly over their lifetime.8

But you also need to think about ongoing costs. If they have anxiety problems, a separation condition, aggression issues or anti-socialisation, you may also need to see a specialist and pay for medication. A puppy, on the other hand, will be raised by you so you can (hopefully) avoid any bad habits taking root at a young age.

Myth 3: Older dogs will be better trained

This is a common misconception that people who aren’t familiar with rescue shelters believe. While a portion of dogs are given up for adoption because their loving family can no longer support them, most dogs who end up in shelters have had a poor upbringing, with many being abused, abandoned or simply left to fend for themselves.

This harsh upbringing, especially from a young age, can manifest in negative ways as the dog ages, with aggression, lack of socialisation and separation anxiety among the biggest problems with rescue dogs.9 Thankfully they are all issues that can be ‘trained out’ of a dog, so if you have the patience and willingness to learn with your furry friend, there is no reason why you can’t turn a rescue dog’s life around.

If, however, you don’t have the time or patience to take on a rescue dog with issues, it may be better to speak with the shelter and find a dog that matches your lifestyle.

Myth 4: Rescue dogs are prone to aggression due to having a bad upbringing

It’s true that many rescue dogs have been traumatised in their younger age and are therefore warier of humans and potentially prone to bouts of aggression if provoked. But the overall takeaway is that dogs – even German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bull Terriers – are not inherently aggressive animals.10

Dogs have an incredible capacity to love, to forgive, and to be happy. And with their short-term memory lasting on average five minutes, they forget about things much faster than most other animals – and especially humans!11

Because of this, if you are willing to work with your rescue dog to help them overcome their less-than-stellar upbringing, then you will likely be rewarded with a staunchly loyal animal.

Myth 5: All rescue dogs are mutts

A ‘mutt’ is a descriptor for a mixed-breed dog. Unfortunately the term has negative connotations, which is somewhat inaccurate considering that research shows mixed-breed dogs can be healthier than purebreds, with fewer genetic health conditions.12

But even if you have your heart set on a Border Collie or a Labrador or a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, you might be surprised by how many purebreds end up in rescue shelters. With tens of thousands of dogs coming into Australian shelters every year, they can’t all be mutts!

Myth 6: Rescue dogs have bonding issues

Rescue dogs can come from many different types of backgrounds but this doesn’t mean that they won’t bond with you. Many experts say that rescue dogs are grateful to have a second chance and will bond quickly with their new family, and tens of thousands of dogs are surrendered to rescue shelters every year in Australia.

Some dogs might need longer to adjust as they may have come from unknown or uncertain backgrounds but this shouldn’t be a barrier to making fresh memories with your new pet. Choose the right type of animal for your home and your needs. Mixed-breed dogs are on average much healthier than purebreds, with fewer genetic health conditions.11

Want to know more about adopting a rescue dog? Then download our free checklist: Six things to consider before adopting a rescue dog.

No matter what type of dog you end up getting, and whether they are a puppy from a breeder or an adult dog from a rescue shelter seeking a second chance at life, there’s nothing like bringing your furry friend home for the first time.

To protect your new best friend for the rest of their life – and to protect your wallet from inevitable vet visits – Real Pet Insurance can cover up to 80% of eligible vet bills up to $12,000 a year, with no excess to pay. Get a quick quote now.

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