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Rehoming A Dog: When Is It the Right Time and How To Do It


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You love your dog. He’s a big part of your life. But your employer’s now requiring a lot of overtime and you’re not spending enough time with him.

Or you have to move and can’t find an apartment that will take a pit bull. 

If you’re reading this article, you probably care greatly for your dog. And feel guilty at the prospect of having to rehome him.

But sometimes a dog isn’t a good fit and it’s better for the dog and the people involved to find an appropriate home.

Dog standing behind a fence

Of course this is different than when someone just tosses a dog away when it becomes inconvenient.

Today we’re going to talk about rehoming a dog, when it is the right time, and how to do it.

Why People Rehome Dogs

There are many reasons why people rehome dogs. Sometimes they feel that there are no other options. 

I’ll present many of the reasons and some possible ways you can keep your dog.

No Time for the Dog Because of a Change in Circumstances

Sometimes a new job with longer hours make it difficult to keep a dog. Or you go back to school in addition to working full-time.

Whatever the reason, the poor dog is left alone for too many hours. Fido needs to potty, to play, to get mental and physical exercise, and to just spend time with you to bond.

Can’t Afford the Dog Because of a Change in Circumstances

Sometimes someone loses a job. Or expenses escalate because of unforeseeable bills. 

The family is then experiencing serious financial difficulties.

Suddenly, the many expenses of having a dog seem overwhelming and unaffordable.

New Apartment Doesn’t Allow Dogs

This happens sometimes when someone must move because of a rent increase or to move closer to a new job or relatives, for example. 

Often, with a search or help of a realtor this can be avoided. 

But this happens more often when a certain breed or size of dog–or even multiple dogs–are involved.

Many times, dogs over a certain weight–like over 40 pounds–aren’t allowed by a landlord. 

So even your beloved golden or lab may be excluded.

Or certain breed types like pit bulls, Rottweilers, or Dobermans, are excluded.

It might not be fair, but, unfortunately, it’s a reality many must face.

Having a Baby

Having a baby is a life-altering event. It’s a time for joy and celebration.

Unfortunately, it may not be so for the family dog.

Some people don’t feel like they’ll have the time for the pup anymore. Sometimes people are afraid that their dog won’t accept the baby.

Sickness or Injury

Life happens. Sometimes a sudden illness or injury takes away a person’s ability to properly care for his dog.

Dog Is Showing Signs of Aggression

If your dog suddenly shows signs of aggression, it can be alarming. There may be a medical or other reason for it.

Or your dog may have shown signs of aggression but the behavior has escalated to the point that it’s no longer manageable or safe.

Dog Doesn’t Get Along With Other Dogs

This may be an issue if you live in an environment in which the dog is constantly faced (literally) with other dogs.

I’ve seen this happen when someone lives in an apartment that allows dogs. 

Getting on the elevator becomes problematic, as can taking walks when many people are out and about.

Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Dogs are often rehomed because they have separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety are often destructive and vocal.

They may damage the door, the woodwork, furniture or anything because of their anxiety. Many even inadvertently injure themselves too.

Some people are unable or unwilling to manage this issue.

Unfortunately, the more often a dog with separation anxiety is transferred, the worse the anxiety becomes.

Dog Has Other Behavior Issues

Sometimes dogs have issues that someone is unable or unwilling to work with or manage.

Some of them are: housetraining problems; fearfulness; escape issues, and excessive barking.

Dog’s a Mismatch in His Placement

Sometimes a placement isn’t a good match. It may be that the pup has too much or not enough energy.

A young border collie or golden retriever will have too much energy for a couple who are couch potatoes.

A shih tzu would also be a bad placement for someone who wants a jogging partner.

Another problem can arise if a dog needs more grooming than the owner is able or willing to give.

Or the dog may be too rambunctious for toddlers. And toddlers are always present and are knocked over by the pup.

Of course, all dogs need to be groomed but some require daily maintenance. A Lhasa apso puppy who isn’t groomed regularly will become a matted mess.

Or most apartment dwellers probably shouldn’t have a sheltie, as they are notorious barkers.

Dog Gets Health Issues That the Owner Can’t Afford

You adopted a dog who is seemingly healthy. But a short time later, the dog becomes very ill.

You take him to the vet and find out he needs major surgery.  And it costs thousands of dollars more than you can afford.

This happened to me. Within a year of adopting my older sheltie Lady, she needed to have her Gallbladder removed. 

Luckily, I was able to pay for the surgery over time and she lived with me another six years. But I realize that not everyone can do so.

Someone in the Home Becomes Allergic to the Dog

Sometimes people aren’t aware that they’re allergic to a dog until they live with him.

Or a new person who’s allergic can join the home.

Two Family Dogs Don’t Get Along

Whether it’s a new dog or one who’s been with you for a while, it’s scary to see two family dogs who fight

It’s dangerous for the dogs and for family members or others who come in contact with them.

You may have to rehome one of the dogs. It’s often advisable to rehome the dog that would be easiest for a new home to live with.

Some Considerations When Deciding To Rehome a Dog

It’s such an emotional decision. Gut wrenching. One of the hardest decisions to make.

You can make a pro and con list if you’re really unsure.

But there are times when a dog should be rehomed. It could be a dangerous situation. Or a situation that cannot be managed otherwise.

When you’ve tried all you can to solve or manage the reasons why people rehome dogs and have been unsuccessful, it may be time to rehome your dog.

If you’re unsure, talk with close friends, family members, and behavior specialists to get another perspective on the matter.

The Dog Is Dangerous to Others

Despite the best efforts, a dog may be too aggressive in its setting. I worked with a family who adopted a goldendoodle . The rescue told the family that the dog was kid-friendly.

Unfortunately, that turned out not to be true. Despite working with the family, the dog was obviously aggressive to young children.

The family had young grandchildren visit on a regular basis.

It was unsafe for the dog to be in that setting. Luckily, the dog was successfully rehomed with an adult family with no children as visitors.

When a dog is stressed in its placement and displays aggression in the setting he’s in, rehoming is advisable. Or the dog’s issues may be so severe that he can’t be in any placement.

No one should be put at risk of injury. And, if the dog bites, it’s likely that he would be euthanized.

Where Is the Mismatch?

Look at the factors above regarding why people rehome dogs. Consider where you are falling short regarding the dog’s needs.

And consider where the dog falls short of your ideal dog. Remember that such a dog may not exist.

Can the Issues Be Resolved?

Consider whether you are willing and able emotionally, physically, and financially to work through the issues.

Options Instead of Rehoming

It’s possible to find other methods of resolving some reasons why a dog is rehomed so that you can keep your dog.

If you really want to keep your dog even despite some barriers that may have developed, such as lifestyle changes,there are possible resolutions.

Some options to consider are the following.

Use a Dog Daycare, Walker, or Sitter

If your hours changed and your dog will be alone too long, getting help from others is an option

Or if you have a high-energy dog and you are unable to meet his needs, sometimes hiring someone to help makes it feasible to keep your pup.

I realize that these services may be expensive, but they also provide an option to keep your pup if you can afford them.

Sometimes just letting your dog out to potty and providing a walk or play session can make it possible to keep your pup.

But make sure to check references before hiring someone to take care of your dog.

Get Help From Friends and Family

If hiring someone isn’t financially feasible, friends or family may be able to help out.

As long as you can be sure that they’ll be able to help out regularly so that your pup’s needs are met, this can help you keep your dog.

Even if you don’t need help on a daily basis, a friend or family member may be able to help out on a short-term basis. 

This can occur when there’s an injury or illness and the owner just needs someone to take care of Fido for a defined period during recovery.

Investigate Apartments or Houses That Allow Dogs

If you have to move, don’t assume there are no other accommodations that will accept dogs.

You can check with realtors, friends, and through internet sites to find pet-friendly places to live.

Get Professional Behavioral Help

If your dog has behavioral issues, you can try to get assistance from the appropriate behavioral professional. 

Not all behavioral issues can be managed to the point that you can live with the dog successfully, but many can.

Get Professional Training Help

Some problems just need to be resolved through training. 

For example, if your dog needs to learn to stop jumping on strangers or family members, a qualified professional positive-reinforcement trainer may be able to set up a training and exercise program so that you can successfully keep your dog.

Consider the Benefits to Children of Having a Dog

Dogs help teach children compassion and responsibility. Learning to care for another living being can really have a life-long effect on a child.

Babies and Dogs

Of course, no dog should be left alone with a baby. But some dogs can readily accept a baby.

I advise people who have dogs to get professional help teaching a dog to accept a baby.

I’ve helped many families prepare their dogs to get used to a baby. Even before the baby is born, you can get your dog ready for the sights, smells, and sounds of a baby in a positive manner.

And the dog needs to get used to not being the center of attention.

But this often can be done very successfully.

Veterinary Help

Sometimes a sudden health emergency arises and it’s very expensive. There are potential ways that you can get help.

Ask the vet about payment options. The vet may have a plan whereby you can pay over a set time.

Or look into CareCredit. If you’re approved, you can pay over a period, such as six months, without any interest. Make sure that the vet takes CareCredit.

Allergies

Sometimes having an allergy to a pet doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rehome him.

Of course, check first with your medical doctor regarding what you need to do,

But some people have been able to keep their dog  by cleaning pet hair and dander off surfaces, bathing the dog regularly, using air purifiers, or taking allergy medications–or any combination of them.

Options When Rehoming

You love your dog. But, after considering the relevant factors, you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best for Fido and your family to rehome him.

There are resources you can use to successfully rehome him.

Make sure that you don’t just give him away to anyone. Some people obtain dogs for appalling purposes, such as the following: to flip (resell) them for profit; to use as bait in dog fighting; to sell to research laboratories; or to abuse.

Of course, you want to be sure that Fido is rehomed to an appropriate, caring home. So look into the following resources.

Be sure to give a detailed description of your dog’s temperament, likes and dislikes, routines, grooming and exercise needs, and other specifics.

Be honest regarding his personality, needs, age, health, how he gets along with new people and other dogs and cats. Spell out any behavioral problems.

Include specifically why you are rehoming him.

And don’t forget to add a couple of great pictures of him.

Prepare your dog to be rehomed. Make sure that his vaccinations are up-to-date. Neutering him may make him more attractive to new prospective owners. It will also ensure that the new owners won’t use him for breeding to make money.

Breed Rescue Groups

If you have a purebred dog, you can find a rescue for him on the internet. Many breed rescues take dogs that appear to be a mix of that breed too.

A good breed rescue will screen potential adopters to ensure that the pup is appropriately placed.

Many will work with the dog on behavioral issues and training.

A good place to find rescues that may be able to help is Petfinder.com. We found Linus on Petfinder.com and rescued him from our local animal shelter.

Shelters 

You can check into shelters near you. Check out what their policies are and what their adoption rates are.

Talk with people who’ve used them to see if they’re satisfied with their services.

Make sure that you feel comfortable leaving your dog with them. 

Many shelters are open admission and euthanize dogs when there’s no more room.

Some are “no-kill” and try to find a placement for most dogs when appropriate. (Of course, they might not be able to place a dog who has severe behavioral issues.)

All-Breed Rescue Groups

Check out rescue groups. Inquire what their policies are regarding taking dogs and adopting them out. 

You want to make sure that your dog will be treated well and be appropriately placed.

Breeders

If you got your dog from a breeder, you might be able to give the dog back to them.

Many contracts with breeders require that you return the dog to them.

Rehoming the Dog Yourself

If you decide to rehome your dog yourself, there are many things to consider.

Write up a biography of your dog. Include his background, personality, likes and dislikes, exercise needs, and grooming needs.

Describe the training he’s had and what commands he knows. Even include details such as what food and treats he eats.

Of course, you want to be honest about any behavioral issues. Describe them in detail, including what they are and what you’ve done to work with such issues and with what result.

CAVEAT REGARDING AGGRESSION: If you’re rehoming your dog because of aggression issues, you’ll want to include many details such as when he’s aggressive, who or what he’s aggressive towards, and whether he’s bitten and a detailed description of any incidents and their outcome. You may want to consult a lawyer before rehoming a dog with aggression issues. There may be legal implications if anyone is injured by the dog.

In addition to providing information to a prospective owner regarding your dog, you should also check out prospective owners.

Screen any potential adopters. You can check out vet and personal references, have the whole family of the prospective owners meet the pup (including any dogs or cats), interview the people, and charge more than a nominal fee to help ensure that the dog won’t be taken for a bad purpose. 

You can also have them sign a contract that the dog is to be returned to you should they decide not to keep him.

Ask specific questions to ensure that the new placement will be appropriate. This should include inquiries regarding whether: the potential adopter rents or owns his home; pets are allowed; they have other pets and if they get along with other animals; the other pets are spayed or neutered.

Also ask how many hours the dog will be left alone. And how they will exercise and train the pup.

And ask whether they can afford veterinary care–including emergencies.

You can ask friends and family members who would be appropriate homes for the pup if they would like to take him.

You can also list your dog on various local sites, such as local Facebook or other community groups. Or in church or community billboards or flyers. You get the idea. 

Be very selective regarding who gets your pup.

Exploring Guilt

It’s normal to feel guilty about having to rehome a dog. But it’s often not warranted.

If you’ve done all you can do to make the placement work and are out of options, you shouldn’t feel guilty rehoming your dog.

Sometimes a placement just isn’t appropriate. And the most selfless thing you can do is rehome your dog. 

When a Dog Can’t Remain In His Current Placement But Shouldn’t Be Rehomed

There are times when a dog definitely can’t remain in his current placement but shouldn’t be rehomed.

Dogs with severe behavioral issues that cannot be resolved or managed may need to be euthanized.

I know that this is a horrible thought, and I feel bad presenting it. But it does occur.

This can be the case when a dog’s aggression cannot be managed and is a risk to the current family and to society.

The cold reality is that there aren’t many placements for such dogs. Rescues and shelters can’t take them due to the risk of injury and liability issues.

Unfortunately, dogs with severe medical conditions that cannot be managed or cured also should probably be humanely euthanized rather than letting them suffer. Of course, do this in consultation with your veterinarian.

Final Thoughts

As much as someone loves and may want to keep a dog, sometimes the placement isn’t the right one.

Life happens. Sometimes events beyond our control occur and make us unable to perform our former commitments.

If you’ve done all that you can physically, emotionally, and financially, you shouldn’t feel guilty at having to rehome your dog.

But try to place him in an appropriate setting so that his next home will be his last.

Have you ever had to rehome a dog?

Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

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Rehoming A Dog: When Is It Right And How To Do It - Dog standing behind a fence

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