When you choose to adopt a dog you plan to care for it forever. However, sometimes life gets in the way and your situation changes dramatically without you being able to plan for it. Unfortunately, some of those changes can lead to dog owners not being able to keep their dogs anymore. That’s when they may need to consider rehoming their dog.

Rehoming a dog isn’t the same thing as abandoning a dog. Rehoming is a mature, humane and responsible act. Most of all, it’s not an easy decision to make but, in many cases, it can be the only way to go.

What does rehoming a dog mean?

Rehoming a dog means to help it find a new home where it’ll be safe, loved, and well taken care of. Instead of surrendering a dog to a shelter, rehoming means that dog owners are taking on the responsibility of finding a new home for their dogs and helping them transition to it. A study investigating the reasons people surrender pets to several shelters around the U.S. listed the common reasons why people gave up their dogs:

  • Aggressive behavior towards other dogs, strangers, or even family members;
  • Separation anxiety that the family can’t reasonably deal with;
  • Other behavioral issues such as fearfulness, housetraining problems, or attempting to escape;
  • The family is moving or going through a big financial constraint;
  • Energy level mismatch between the dog and the family;
  • Health issues that the family can’t afford to treat or manage.

Amongst all the reasons listed above, behavioral problems were the main reason why dog owners gave up their dogs. But although many dog owners deal with behavioral issues at some point in their dog-owning journey, when is it time to consider rehoming?

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When should dog owners consider rehoming?

Some situations can be dealt with and managed. Others cannot. How can you know for certain when is it time to rehome a dog?

When the reason for rehoming is that the family is moving or a financial constraint that makes it impossible for dog owners to keep their dogs, there’s not much more to be said and done. But when it comes to behavioral issues and energy mismatch, it can be harder to tell if rehoming is the right call.

Here are a couple of questions you can answer that will help you analyze the situation you have at hands:

  • What does your ideal dog look like? Does it need to be active and ready to go? Does it need to be good with small kids? Does it need to be more independent and calm so it can be alone at home without a problem?
  • What does your dog’s ideal home and family look like? Would it do better in a home with more pets? Would it be better off in a calmer environment? Or in a family environment where there’s always someone ready to play with it?
  • Where is the mismatch? What are you not providing your dog and you know it needs? What is the dog not providing you?
  • What would you need to do to overcome these issues? Would you need to spend more time with your dog outdoors? Would you need to find dog sitting services? Would you need to hire a trainer?
  • More importantly… Are you willing and able to work through these issues?

This last question is the most important one. There may be a solution to the situation you’re facing. But if you’re not willing and able to go through it emotionally, physically, and financially, then the decision has been made for you. If you already answered all the questions above but are still struggling with making a final decision, talk it through with friends, family or reach out to a dog behaviorist or a vet for some advice and expert opinion.

5 options to rehome a dog

The next step after making the decision to rehome a dog is to start working towards it. There are several options to choose from but you’ll always have to be honest about your dog’s behavioral and health issues. You want to find a better home for your dog and the only way you’re able to do that is by having full disclosure on what led you to give it up in the first place. Otherwise, your dog may end up being rehomed again, or worse, abandoned or euthanized.

Here are the 5 options for rehoming a dog:

  1. Reach out to friends and family: Start by asking your friends, family, and even co-workers if they’re willing to adopt your dog. That way your dog can stay with someone it’ll likely already know and someone you trust will take good care of it. This is often the fastest way to rehome a dog.
  2. Contact the shelter you adopted your dog from: Some shelters require adopters to surrender the dog back to them. Some may even post your dog back for adoption on their website and let you keep your dog until you’re able to find a good home.
  3. Talk to your vet: Some vets have adoption resources or work closely with shelters you can turn to. Your vet may also know someone that is looking to expand their canine family.
  4. Post on social media: Upload a photo of your dog along with its story on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s a great way to get the word out and, there’s no need to be afraid of judgment. As long as you’re honest about why your rehoming your dog people will understand and be willing to help.
  5. Use the Adopt-a-Pet rehoming listing service: Adopt-a-Pet is a popular adoption website that also has a rehoming service. All you need to do is create a listing by filling out a form online and uploading your dog’s pictures.

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Making sense of it all

Rehoming a dog is a difficult decision but sometimes it can be the best option for both your dog and your family. If the situation you have in your hands is out of your control and you’re not able to work through it, rehoming is the most responsible decision you can make. It can either be because your dog’s behavior is putting your family at risk or because you’re not physically or financially able to provide your dog with the care it needs.

There’s no need to feel guilty about rehoming a dog if you’ve gone through every other option and none of them worked. To be sure there’s nothing else you can do, work with a dog behaviorist, a dog trainer, or with a vet. They’ll be able to give you expert advice.

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