Rehoming your dog(s) can be an extremely difficult and heart-breaking decision, but sometimes it’s the right one.

Before deciding to rehome your dogs, it’s important to dig deep and ask yourself some questions before going ahead. If you do indeed choose to rehome them, make sure to put their wellbeing as top priority and do it with the most compassion possible. It’s understandable that pet parents’ circumstances can sometimes change due to circumstances beyond their control, so try not to be too hard on yourself if you’re going through difficulties.

Some questions to ask before rehoming your dog

Why did I get a dog?

This is an important question to ask because the answer will lead you to consider the positives in your relationship with your furry friend. Yes, there may be challenges with behavioural issues or training but often these can be overcome with some external help. Dogs thrive more in a settled home, and until you’ve exhausted all possible options for tackling whatever issues are there, it may not be time to rehome yet.

Can their behavioural issues be resolved?

Have you spoken to your vet, local dog charity or a dog behaviourist? Behavioural issues can often be solved with some help from an expert or some training. If finance is an issue, reach out to local dog charities who may be able to help or recommend free classes. If your dog came from a reputable breeder, they might even be able to offer advice. In some cases a resolution just isn’t possible, especially if there is aggression with humans and especially children.

If finance has become an issue, is there help out there?

We all know that financial circumstances can change from the moment you decide to become a pet parent and it can cause a lot of heartbreak knowing you can no longer afford to care for your canine. In some countries, financial assistance is available to help you and your pet stay together and for vet bills. It’s always worth thinking about pet insurance too, to avoid huge vet bills where possible.

If your health is an issue, can someone help?

It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing if you’re unwell: giving up your loving, treasured companion. In some situations it’s undoubtedly unavoidable but could a friend or relative help out with walks and some day to day care? Is there a local dog walker or petsitter that might take over some caring responsibilities. Again, it’s not always possible but it is certainly worth a try. 

Can I change my routine to accommodate my dog?

If routines or work commitments (especially the post-pandemic return to the office) are becoming a barrier to doggie care, can you change it? Some employers are far more open to remote working or hybrid working now, and some workplaces are even dog-friendly. If that’s not an option, reach out to friends or contacts in your dog-walking circles – someone may be willing to do some caring in exchange for something you can offer. And, there are doggie daycare options if it won’t break your budget.

Sometimes, sadly, the answer to these questions is no. Life situations can push us to our limits at times and you must take the difficult decision to find a good home for your canine companion.

How to rehome your dog compassionately

There are several options for rehoming your dog, depending on your geographical location. Some countries offer more solutions than others, so take advice locally and never just abandon your dog in the street.

Rehome them with a friend or relative

In some cases this is a great option to rehome them with someone you (and they) know and trust. It also means that you will still be able to see them from time to time, although this can be hard too. 

Return them to the breeder

It’s worth checking if you can return breed dogs to the original breeder. There’s sometimes a clause in the contract you sign when buying a breed that allows you to return them. It could be easier for the breeder to find a new home with an owner specifically looking for that kind of dog.

Contact your local rescue or shelter

There are thousands of dog rescue centres and shelters all over the world. They will try to help you rehome your dog, although if they have a history of aggression it might be more difficult. Do your research and avoid shelters that euthanise rescue dogs. Never just dump or abandon your pet somewhere – this is inhumane.

Avoid selling online or privately

Don’t be tempted to sell your dog privately. There’s no way to vet your buyers or know if they’re going to care for and treat your dog well. Rescue centres and shelters usually have protocols (again do your research) for rehoming and will never give a dog to an owner without vetting and homechecking them.

Rehoming your dogs is a very tough decision and there are many emotions surrounding it, like guilt, shame and judgement. It’s important to consider all options before taking this distressing decision, and once the decision is made, to carry out the rehoming with careful thought. Most of us love our dogs and want the best for them, and in certain life situations, you are sometimes not able to give them the best.

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About the author

Vaila Erin is a writer, lover of animals, and a bit of a nomad. For her, life is about stories — observing yourself and others so that you can laugh, cry and entertain each other with its absurdities. Connect with her at or via LinkedIn.