Read This Before You Rehome Your Dog

When we decide to share our lives with a dog, the assumption is that we are gaining a furry family member that will enrich and improve our lives. The bonds that we share with our dogs are incomparable to any other type of relationship in our lives and we anticipate that this bond will be ’till death do us part.’


Unfortunately, circumstances can occur that result in making the decision to end our relationship with a family canine member. Many times situations occur that seem, at the moment, serious enough that the first and only option on the table is finding another family for the pet.

I was personally at this crossroads many years ago when I owned dogs that fought. They both got along with other animals in and out of the household but when it came to one another, they were mortal enemies! We decided to modify our household so that their interactions were carefully monitored, if allowed at all and provided several safe spaces for them to live their lives in the same household separate but equal. I understand that this is not a realistic scenario for every household, so I never judge folks who come to the decision to rehome their dogs when they fight. It takes a strong constitution to safely maintain dogs that don’t get along,  and one must run a tight ship at all times in order to prevent serious injury, or even death. Even the most diligent owners sometimes have mistakes happen, which can potentially have serious consequences.

There are other reasons that families decide that they can no longer keep their dog(s) in the household. Some of the most common are having children, relocation (either to a different city/state or to a community that does not allow certain breeds, or dogs at all).  As a pet sitter, I have had families that have had to make the decision to surrender their dogs when a serious medical emergency arose and they could not afford the services needed to treat their pet. Some families are faced with having to rehome or in severe cases, euthanize a dog if it is deemed a serious threat to the household or community. I’m sure there are many situations that I haven’t covered here that may come to mind with individuals that you know, or perhaps you were faced with making the decision to rehome your dog at some point in the past.

If you are faced with the unavoidable decision of having to rehome your pet, here are some ways you can make this very difficult situation go as smoothly as possible.

One of the most important items on your checklist is to be sure to spay or neuter your dog before it leaves your home. This can reduce undesirable behaviors and will prevent unwanted litters. Be sure to have your vet do a general check up on your dog so that you will be able to provide health information to your dog’s new caregiver.

Make an effort to contact the breeder, adoption agency or rescue from which you obtained your dog. A responsible breeder or rescue organization should have a contract stating this when you acquire your dog. If you purchased your dog from a pet store or puppy mill, this may not be an option.

Do research on responsible rescue groups in your area. Be sure to visit an actual facility and meet rescue organizers/volunteers face to face. Be sure to find out their policies if a dog is placed in a home and cannot be kept. A responsible rescue organization has planned for the possibility of having to take a previously adopted dog back at any point in its life. Have an honest conversation about any serious health or behavioral difficulties your dog may have and ask the rescue how they will address these issues. If they are vague or noncommittal, this may not be the best setting for your dog.

If you must advertise on social media, online classified sites like Craigslist or locally, please do not rehome your dog for free. A responsible, caring possible owner will have no problem paying an adoption fee. Giving a dog away for free can often attract unsavory types of people that may not have the best intentions for your pet. Be sure to conduct a physical home visit with potential families to ensure that it has safe, ideal environment for your pet. Be sure to have had an honest conversation prior to visiting about any behavioral or health challenges/difficulties your pet has. Plan a trial visit or weekend to determine if the household is a permanent good fit for your dog.

Before you decide to rehome your dog, be sure that you have carefully thought about and exhausted all possible options in keeping your dog and working through issues with the help of a professional. You can usually locate a behaviorist that practices positive reinforcement protocols in your area by asking your local vet or Humane Society. Research pet insurance plans for your dog before serious health issues occur.  Pet Insurance can help offset the cost of some of the more expensive procedures that are a result of emergencies and serious health conditions. Also, keep in mind that some breeds are prone to certain genetic health issues that may require more expensive care, especially as the animal ages. At any rate, making the major decision to rehome your dog takes some calm thinking and a careful plan to ensure that the pup that you intended on caring for their natural life has a fair chance of still receiving that care in a setting that works for all involved.

Have you ever been faced with the decision of having to rehome a beloved pet? Share your experience in the comments!

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