A brown and white dog sitting in the open doorway of a house.

Rescue Me: How to Responsibly Rehome a Rescue Dog

“Rescue Me” is a recurring column by Samantha Randall, editor-in-chief at Top Dog Tips. She’ll provide personal anecdotes and perspective about her life as a pet lover with a passion for cat and dog rescue. Today, she ponders what to do if you feel your rescued pet isn’t working out.

Making the decision to rehome your dog is never a pleasant experience, no matter the reason.  However, sometimes it is the best — or even the only — solution. And if you must rehome a rescue dog, especially one you only recently have taken in, the situation is even more complicated.

If you’ve seriously considered the situation and rehoming your rescue still seems like the best option for you and your pet, the decision is nothing to be ashamed about. You’ve tried your best, and it just didn’t work out. See below for tips on how to find your dog the best possible situation.

However, many circumstances that seem impossible to overcome do have solutions. Before you opt to find a new home for your dog, be sure to examine your situation thoroughly.

For example:

  • Moving to a new home — This is one of the most common reasons why owners put their dogs up for adoption or try to find them a new home. However, many rentals accept pets, and you can often work with landlords to allow you to keep the dog, so make sure that you have discussed the specifics at your prospective new residence first.
  • Not enough time — Some dog owners eventually find themselves not having enough time to care for their dogs (walking, training, playtime) but you can hire a dog walker or ask a neighbor or friends to help from time to time. Doggie daycare is another option for dog owners with long working hours.
  • Allergy in the family — If you have found out that someone in your household has an allergy to pet hair, you can try allergy pills or allergen air purifiers. Keeping dust at bay by frequent sweeping, dusting and vacuuming can often help decrease the symptoms.
  • Baby on the way — Becoming pregnant is another common reason for couples to rehome their dogs. However, dogs often get along fine with newborn babies and in many cases there is no reason for concern, even with rescue dogs that have not been a part of your family for long.
  • Financial problems — If your financial situation has changed and you can’t afford your dog’s healthcare, discuss payment options with your vet. You can also look into organizations that can help mitigate veterinary bills. There are many ways you can save on pet supplies as well. Finally, if you can’t cover the basic necessities, consider asking a friend to take care of your dog temporarily until your financial situation improves.
  • Health issues – Sometimes, a dog owner’s health goes down and they’re incapable to care for the dog properly. If you feel like your health problem is temporary, consider asking someone (friend, neighbor, family member) to take care of your dog during this time. However, if your health problems seem to be long-term, rehoming is probably the best solution.
  • Behavioral problems – Rescue dogs sometimes have unforeseen behavioral issues. Here’s more on that topic.

How to re-home your rescue dog

It’s distressing to discover that circumstances may leave you with no other option but to surrender your rescue. In many cases, creative thinking or temporary assistance work out so you can stay together. Sometimes, however, the best or only solution is rehoming your pal.

If you decide to go down this path, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your pooch finds a good new home.

  • Ask a family member or a close friend — Perhaps the best way to rehome a rescue dog is to find them a home with a person you know and trust.
  • Advertise for adoption — Another way to go is to use social media to find a new home for the dog. Make sure that you present all the important information and make your pooch presentable to increase the chances of adoption. Post on Adopt-a-Pet. Ask your vet to put the word out or recommend somebody that they know is looking for a dog. And don’t forget to do your due diligence and ensure the dog is going to a good home.
  • Return the dog to the rescue you adopted from — Shelters and rescues will often accept the dog back when necessary, and some even prefer that you go to them first if the dog doesn’t work out in your home. They might even let you keep the dog until they find another good home, if that’s what you prefer.
  • Find a good rescue or shelter — If the shelter that you adopted the dog from can’t take them back, look for other rescues and shelters in your area that have a no-kill policy and good reputation.

The right decision for all

It’s not easy to make the decision to rehome a pet, especially when it’s a rescue dog. They’ve already been abandoned at least once and only wish to find a permanent home with their new pet parents.

That said, do not feel bad — it’s a decision that is sometimes unavoidable. If you put in the effort and tried to overcome the difficulties to the best of your ability, finding a safe and happy new home for your rescue pooch is best for everyone.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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