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Adoptive family and rescue dog, photo courtesy of Humane Society of North Texas

What to Know About Bringing Home a Rescue Dog

The best dog ages for kids, safe ways to interact and which questions to ask rescue organizations

Colleyville mom Michelle Carter and her husband have two daughters, but they’re actually a family of six—you can’t leave out Molly and Milo, the Carters’ rescue dogs. The patient pups allow the girls to play with them and take care of them, and life is a true happily ever after for these dogs with a rough start. It’s just what you want when you bring home a rescue pet. But how do you know a pup is safe around kids and a good fit for your family? We connected with the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) for expert advice. 

  • Think about what dog is best for your family. “Golden and Labrador retrievers, boxers, Boston terriers and Newfoundlands are typically great with children,” shares Nicole Kight, HSNT behavior training manager, “but there are those that may not have the temperament or positive experiences to tolerate and enjoy children.”
    If your home is busy and noisy, a dog 6 months–2 years might be ideal. That’s old enough to be past the sometimes-frustrating puppy stage, and the dog may have some training. That age is also young enough to keep up with the action. A senior dog may prefer to rest.
  • Teach kids how to interact in advance. For example, don’t kiss a dog. Do scratch his neck or rub his belly. Books can be a great resource; HSNT recommends May I Pet Your Dog? by Stephanie Calmenson, Tails Are Not for Pulling by Elizabeth Verdick, and Be Gentle With the Dog, Dear! by Matthew J. Baek.   
  • Pay attention to body language. When you introduce your child (hopefully before the animal comes home), observe demeanor. “Is the dog happy to see them, with a loose, wagging body and relaxed facial features?” Kight asks. “Or does the dog seem to be nervous and anxious, whining, pacing, drooling, lip licking and panting, with dilated eyes and a tense body?” 
  • Consider fostering. This will give your child interaction with a dog, and you can also find out if a specific animal is relaxed and happy in your brood. “We first fostered Milo from a local rescue,” says Carter. “He was instantly great with my girls. We knew he’d be safe just by having him in our home and how protective he is. He was also really close with our other dog.” 
  • Ask questions. Find out a dog’s backstory, including the reason for surrender (if available), a description of temperament, whether the dog has been around kids (and what ages), whether there are behavioral issues, and what to do if things don’t work out. “A rescue organization should always take back the dog,” Kight notes. 
  • Be ready. Have a crate, a safe space where your dog can sleep, eat, chew on a bone, and recharge. (Kight recommends a rule that children aren’t allowed to interact with the dog in the crate.) Baby gates are useful. Bedding will make the dog more comfortable, and toys and chews will keep the pup occupied and stimulated, which promotes better behavior. Kight suggests involving older children in daily routines and training. And finally, always supervise when kids and dogs are together. 
Nicole Kight with rescue dog pic 2, photo courtesy of Humane Society of North Texas
Pictured: Nicole Kight training a rescue dog, photo courtesy of Humane Society of North Texas

Local Dog Rescue Organizations

Whether you are ready for a furry family member, interested in fostering or are volunteer-minded, there are many worthy rescue organizations in Dallas-Fort Worth. These are a few to consider; be sure to inquire about a specific dog’s comfort level with kids in your family’s age range. 

Apollo Support & Rescue
Miss Kitty the Chihuahua is one of the dogs Apollo Support & Rescue lists as good in a home with children. Can’t adopt, but want to help? Apollo offers virtual fostering: Take a dog to events to promote adoption, or just spend time with a pup to encourage socialization.
1170 Dove Hill Road, Justin (northwest of Flower Mound)
Contact: Email inquire@apollosupportandrescue.org
See dogs available for adoption here.

Doodle Rock Rescue
Doodles (poodle mixes) are typically less prone to shedding than other dogs, potentially reducing allergens, so they’re a popular choice for families. Some of Doodle Rock Rescue’s pups have age and size requirements for a potential adopter’s children, due to the dog’s size, temperament or other reason identified during fostering.
Location: Dallas
Contact: Email
information@doodlerockrescue.org or use this web form
See dogs available and soon-to-be available for adoption here.

Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas
Goldens are known for their love and loyalty; they also shed a lot. Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas adopts only to families with children age 5 and up. (The organization notes that goldens are large and excitable, so they could knock over a small child; also, the rescue often doesn’t have a lot of background information on the dogs and how they act around littles.)
Location: Dallas
Contact: Email
See dogs available and soon-to-be available for adoption here.

Humane Society of North Texas
In 2021, the Humane Society of North Texas adopted out more than 7,300 animals and rescued nearly 600 from cruel situations. You’ll find a wide variety of breeds and ages.
Main Location:
1840 East Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth
Contact: Call 817/332-4768 or email info@hsnt.org
See all dogs and cats available for adoption and services offered here.

Operation Kindness
Homeless dogs (and cats) stay with this no-kill shelter until they find forever homes. Check the website often for your perfect pet; Operation Kindness says new animals arrive daily.
Location: 3201 Earhart Drive, Carrollton
Contact: Call 972/418-7297 or use web form
See all dogs and cats available for adoption here.

Photo courtesy of Humane Society of North Texas