5 Myths About Rescued Dogs

There are many misconceptions surrounding dogs at rescues and shelters. For example, not all dogs have something “wrong” with them. There are many pups in need of loving homes!

Apr 21, 2024By Nikita Hillier
myths about rescued dogs

When adding a new pet to the family, many people are hesitant about choosing a rescued dog––usually because of many myths and misconceptions surrounding them. However, these myths usually stem from many outdated beliefs and misunderstandings about the reality of rescue dogs.

Just like no two people are exactly alike, the same applies to rescue dogs. While some may indeed have behavioral problems (such as food aggression), others are in shelters because of life’s unfortunate circumstances or overpopulation. Here, you can learn about the misconceptions surrounding shelter dogs.

Myth 1: Shelter Dogs Have Behavioral Problems

black senior dog staring through chain fence
Image Credit: Margarita Kosior on Unsplash

It’s a common misconception that dogs only end up in shelters because they have behavioral issues. The fact is, most dogs are in shelters through no fault of their own. Also, what may seem like a “problem” behavior for one person may be perfectly manageable for another person. For example, some dogs deal with separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Yet, if you’re someone who works from home or is eager to build confidence in your dog, a shelter dog could be the right match!

Reputable shelters will often assess a dog’s behavioral issues and then work on them. These dogs receive training and rehabilitation before they are ever put up for adoption. With kindness, patience, and understanding, most dogs can easily adapt to their new home without issues.

Don’t let this silly myth deter you from adopting a shelter dog. Instead, focus on funding a dog that suits your needs and aligns with your lifestyle. Consider putting together a little list of things you do and don’t want in a dog. This way, you can get exactly what you want: a dog that suits you!

Myth 2: Old Dogs Can’t Learn New Tricks

cute tan dog wearing bandana
Image Credit: Madeline Bowen on Unsplash

Another huge misconception is that senior dogs are set in their ways and won’t ever learn new tricks or adapt to their new life. However, that’s not true. Per Psychological Science, senior dogs can learn new tricks and adapt to new lifestyles; it just takes a bit longer.

The reality is that many older dogs often come with training and life experience, making them much easier to integrate into your home. Many senior dogs are typically housebroken, socialized, and leash-trained.

With lots of love, consistency, and positive reinforcement, older shelter dogs can surprise you with their ability to learn and thrive in their new home. There are so many easy tricks to teach older dogs that are a little easier for them to pick up. Don’t say no to older dogs; they can be beautiful family members, and there is a lot to love about them.

Myth 3: All Shelter Dogs Are Sick

little puppy in animal shelter sleeping
Image Credit: Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Here’s another myth: “All shelter dogs are sick.” While some shelter dogs may have health issues, many are actually in good health. If not, a well-run shelter will tell you about these health concerns before adoption, so you can plan accordingly.

Before dogs are adopted out, reputable shelters will conduct thorough health evaluations, along with providing spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and treatment for pre-existing health conditions.

Even if you’re purchasing a dog straight from a breeder, you should consider purchasing pet insurance, too. A comprehensive policy will pay for medications, veterinary visits, and other health-related surprises. That way, you can focus on giving your dog the love they need rather than stressing about finances.

Myth 4: Shelter Dogs Are Aggressive

small brown and white dog staring into camera
Image Credit: Madeline Bowen on Unsplash

One of the most damaging myths that people spread about shelter dogs is that they are all aggressive or dangerous with severe behavioral issues. This stereotype often stems from misconceptions about why dogs end up in shelters. While some dog breeds are more prone to aggression than others, many shelter dogs are very loving, friendly animals who enjoy human companionship.

Well-run shelters will carefully assess each dog, along with their temperament and behavior, to help potential adopters make informed decisions. Some shelters also conduct “meet and greets” where you can meet the dog yourself before adoption. Often, you’re encouraged to bring along other pets in the household, so you can see if they “mix.”

With proper care, socialization, patience, and training, most shelter dogs easily become well-adjusted family pets who bring companionship and joy to their new families!

Myth 5: Shelter Dogs Are Dirty

pitbull looking into camera with tongue out
Image Credit: Cierra Voelkl on Unsplash

Another common misconception about shelter dogs is that they are dirty, full of fleas, and unkempt. Some dogs arrive at shelters in desperate need of grooming, medical attention, and treatment, so it isn’t entirely untrue, but this is more at the hands of their previous owners or from living on the streets. However, good shelters will provide basic grooming and healthcare services to ensure the well-being of all animals in their care.

Many shelters have dedicated volunteers and staff who groom the dogs regularly to keep them clean, comfortable, and healthy. Dogs are treated for parasites and given the necessary vaccinations before being up for adoption. In fact, many shelter dogs are wholeheartedly cared for and ready to become beloved family members.

NOTE: If you’re at a shelter, and you notice that dogs are matted, need bathing, or seem itchy, it’s time to turn tail. Not all shelters are created equal, with some prioritizing profits over taking care of their dogs. To ensure the best adoption experience, focus on breed-specific rescues or even read reviews from previous adopters.

Why Are Some Dogs Rehomed?

puppy at shelter
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dogs rely on their owners to provide safe, loving homes. However, not everyone can provide that. The ASPCA notes that some reasons why animals are rehomed include:

  • The owner did not have time to properly care for the animal.
  • The dog had traits that the owner deemed “problematic,” such as requiring too much attention, having problems with housebreaking, and being intolerant of other animals in the home.
  • The animal grew larger than expected.
  • The dog had health problems (such as skin issues or vision problems) that the owner couldn’t handle.

There’s a dog out there for everybody, and many of these dogs are in shelters, just waiting to find their forever homes!

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!