Is it Ever Okay to Rehome a Dog?

Is it Ever Okay to Rehome a Dog?

I want to start out by saying, I will never judge anyone for having to rehome a dog. If you are here because you are wondering if you should rehome your dog, please feel comfortable knowing you are in the right place.

Sh** happens. Life changes, people get new jobs, get sick, pass away, dogs develop health or behavior issues. When adopting a rescue dog there are never guarantees. Heck, life is never a guarantee!

Rehoming a scared rescue dog

This blog has loads of helpful information that could help you through some health and behavior issues. If there is anything I can do to help you through this hard time, please feel free to contact me. 

Rehoming a Dog Guilt

If you are unsure if rehoming your dog is the right choice, you may be feeling guilty that you cannot take care of her anymore. Or that you made a bad decision on adopting him in the first place. I can’t take away that guilt, but you can help yourself and the dog by doing some research before giving your dog away.

As hard as it may be to understand from the perspective of an outsider, sometimes a situation arises when you need to rehome your dog. As a volunteer for a local rescue, I see owner surrendered dogs all of the time.

Foster Dog Silla Senior Black Lab

Our Foster Dog Silla was a Owner Surrender Story

In fact, our very first foster dog was a 10-year-old black lab, Silla, that was surrendered by her family. I admit I was confused as to why anyone would let such a sweet lab go. I didn’t know the family, but I do know they didn’t make the choice to rehome their dog lightly.

From what I do know, they lived on a farm and adopted two new herding breed dogs. The two new dogs did not get along with Silla and fights broke out. They felt that giving Silla a quiet home to retire in was in her best interest. Again, I am not here to judge. Did they feel guilty? I’m not sure, but I can only imagine how difficult that decision was for them.

Rehoming a Dog Tips

So, let’s start by ensuring you are making the right decision to rehome your dog. Why have you decided you need to give your dog away? 


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Rehoming a Dog Because of Life Circumstances:

  1. I have become too sick to take care of my dog.
    If your situation is temporary, can you find a friend or family member to help by taking your dog in for a few months until you get back on your feet?
  2. I can no longer afford my dog because of job loss.
    Same as above, see if someone will help you and your dog out until you find a new job.
  3. I am moving to an apartment that does not allow dogs.
    Find an apartment that does allow dogs. I’m sorry but this is one that you do have control over. I know sometimes it can be hard, but there are plenty of landlords that do allow dogs.
  4. We just realized my child is allergic to dogs.
    Are you certain it is the dog your kids are allergic too? Have you tried bathing your dog? Brushing him more often? Keeping the dog out of the areas your child sleeps and plays?
  5. We just had a new baby and no longer have time for a dog.
    A baby may keep you busy, but it has been proven that kids who grow up with a dog are healthier. Children that grow up with a dog learn responsibility and compassion for animals. You will make time for both baby and dog. Many activities you can do with your dog and child… go for walks or play ball in the backyard together.
  6. I cannot afford my dogs health care, because of an illness or injury.
    Talk to your vet about payment options or look into Care Credit. I understand the thought of spending hundreds or thousands on your dog is daunting… trust me I do, I’ve been there. And sometimes we have to make tough decisions, but there are options out there, you just need to find them.
  7. I got a new job and no longer have time for a dog.
    Consider doggy-daycare or a dog walker. You did make a commitment to your dog when you first adopted him. Do your best to make it work.

Rehoming a Dog Because of Behavior Issues:

  1. My dog has bitten a child.
    I understand it is really scary if your rescue dog has bitten your child. This should never be taken lightly. But please look at the situation with a clear mind. Read Why Do Family Dogs Bite and make your decision from there.
  2. My dog has bitten another dog.
    If you adopted a new dog and he isn’t getting along with your other dog, then take a few steps back and start over. Read The Best Way to Introduce a Second Dog and see if you can fix the relationship.
  3. My dog has severe separation anxiety and has destroyed our house.
    What have you tried to help your dog with his anxiety? Please read Solutions for Separation Anxiety to see if there are steps you can take before giving up on him.
  4. I just adopted this dog and he isn’t what I expected.
    How long have you had the dog? Have you given her enough time to adjust? Did you know that it could take up to 3 months for a rescue dog to feel completely comfortable in her new home? If you are certain you adopted the wrong dog, talk the rescue or shelter you got the dog from. Many times, they will take the dog back if it just isn’t a good fit.

An important note about rehoming a dog that has bitten a child or dog. Please disclose this information before giving your dog away. No matter how desperate you are, do not allow another child to be bitten. Do you really want another family to go through what you have?

rehoming dog pitbull dog

Where Can I Give My Dog Away

If you are certain rehoming your dog is the right decision, where and how should you give your dog away?

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to be honest about all your dog’s issues and health concerns. Finding someone that is prepared to take care of all of your dog’s quirks, big or small, is important… or else he will just end up being returned to you or worse, euthanized.

Option 1: Contact the Rescue You Originally Adopted Your Dog From

If you adopted your dog from a shelter or rescue, start by asking them about taking the dog back. The rescue I volunteer for actually requires their adopters to surrender the dog back to them if needed at any time.

Some rescues will even post your dog on their website and let you keep him until you find a good home.

Option 2: Turn to Friends and Family for Help

I recommend you start by asking friends and family, even co-workers if they would be willing to take in your dog. This way you know the dog will be well taken care of.

Option 3: Post on Social Media

Posting a photo and your dog’s story on Facebook could be a great way to get the word out he needs a new home. I understand you may be afraid of being judged by your peers, but you’d be surprised how fast you could rehome a dog using social media.

Option 4: Ask Your Veterinarian

Your vet may have adoption resources you could turn to, or maybe even know someone looking to adopt a new dog. 

Option 5: Rehoming a Dog on Adopt-a-Pet Website

Adopt-a-Pet is a well-known online adoption website, and they have a rehoming listing service too! Adopt a pet makes it easy to list by simply filling out the form online and uploading pictures. Rehome at Adopt-a-Pet also has a ton of resources for you to try and keep your dog

Dog Chuck it Ball

We adopted Bear from a Craigslist Ad

Option 6: Rehoming a Dog on Craigslist

I love Craigslist, I use it to buy and sell everything from toys to furniture. But when it comes to dogs, it can be sketchy. Some very bad people lurk on the social selling site.

Let’s face it, we’ve all heard the horror stories of people getting scammed out of their houses, kidnapped or shot over a computer. And dogs being bought for reasons I’d rather not think of… bad reasons… for fighting and bait dogs.

There are also stories of puppy mills posting on Craigslist, so again, please do your research before buying or selling on this platform.

Now that I scared you, I have to admit something… we adopted our yellow lab Bear from Craigslist. Yup, that’s right we adopted an 18-month-old pure breed English Yellow Lab on Craigslist! We got lucky, the family rehoming him got lucky.

Bear grew much larger than the family thought he would… at a whopping 97 lbs, he was too big to live in a small trailer home with no yard. Plus, Bears’ previous owner was aging, had bad knees and couldn’t walk him. He was bursting at the seams with built up energy and was not a happy dog.

She realized this and came to the difficult conclusion that they needed to rehome Bear. She cried as we packed Bear’s belongings into our car, so I knew she cared very much for him and I am sure she felt guilty for letting him go.

A happy ending can happen, but you need to do your homework. Ask a lot of questions and meet the family before agreeing they can adopt your dog. Ask for a rehoming fee to ensure the new family is serious. 

Option 7: Contact Your Local Humane Society or Shelter

I’d say this should be your last resort. Dogs become very stressed when dropped off at a shelter. A shelter can be a scary place for any animal. And you have no idea how long he could end up staying there.

Call ahead and find out the shelters process of surrendering a dog. DO NOT just drop a dog off at the back door! Please no matter how desperate you are, this is not the right way to handle rehoming a dog.

The more information the shelter has about your dog before rehoming, the less stress for the dog, and the better chance he has for being readopted.

Please make sure you find a no-kill shelter. Unless your dog is truly aggressive, and you’ve tried everything… does he really deserve to be euthanized?


Over to you… please share your story in the comments below. I created the Rescue Dogs 101 community so we can support each other in times of need. It could help someone else in the same situation. You may be feeling alone right now, having to rehome your dog is not an easy decision, but please take comfort in knowing you are not alone! I am here for you.

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About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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