How to Rehome a Dog: Tips and Advice for Finding a Loving Home

baby lying on bed next to brown and gray dog

You’ve come to a conclusion: “I need to rehome my dog”.

If you're contemplating whether to rehome your dog, you probably have been struggling for some time with the root cause for this decision. When help from your vet, trainers and other pet experts has been exhausted, sometimes the best solution for you and your dog is to find a more appropriate home to better support their needs.

Before making a decision like this, it’s important to thoroughly exhaust any and all options for keeping the pet. If your pet is experiencing behavioral issues, there are trainers and specialists who may be able to work with your dog before resorting to rehoming. If experiencing financial or housing insecurity, there are programs and resources that can assist in providing aid.

In the event that rehoming your dog is the necessary course of action, there are a few tips outlined below to help with dog rehoming.

Assess Your Dog’s Needs

Depending on why you need to rehome your dog, your first thought may be, I need to rehome my dog urgently. The best rehoming dogs advice is to take a step back and assess your dog’s needs. Think carefully about what your dog might be missing in their current home. Here are a few questions to ask when rehoming a dog.

1. Is Your Dog Needing Rehoming Due to Relocation?

Many people find themselves in situations that require them to move to a new home or location that doesn’t allow pets. If there aren’t alternative living options, the result may be rehoming. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common reason for needing to rehome a dog. The obvious need would be for the dog to find a home where there are no restrictions on dogs of their age, breed, temperament, etc.

2. Are You Rehoming a Dog With Behavior Problems?

While there are resources that can help alleviate or resolve challenges related to pet behavioral issues, sometimes an owner must resort to rehoming if a situation proves irreversibly dangerous or outside of their resources and capabilities to successfully address. However, it’s important to understand what those behavioral issues are and where they stem from, so that the rescue organization will be properly informed on how best to rehabilitate and/or rehome your pet for success.

3. Has Your Family Situation Changed?

If you have recently introduced a new family member to your home (e.g., a new baby, a new pet), this change in environment can be difficult for some pets. If your dog is having trouble with the adjustment, this could mean rehoming for the safety of other family members. You’ll want to be clear at the time of rehoming that the dog does not do well with children or other pets.

4. Has Your Financial Situation Changed?

The reality is that there are financial requirements for taking good care of a dog. Whether your dog is completely healthy or experiencing a health condition that contributes to veterinary visits and subsequent veterinary bills, these can easily add up. Talk to your veterinarian about payment plans, or if affording dog food is a challenge, research local pet food pantries in your area. If you’ve exhausted all your options and decide to rehome a dog for financial reasons, be sure to be up front with the new owners about any medical expenses involved in caring for your pet.

How to Find a Home for a Dog

If you’re rehoming a stray dog, be sure to determine whether someone is looking for the dog. There are state laws on lost pets, and they can vary from state to state. So, start there by researching the laws in your state.

From there, take the dog to a veterinarian to check if it has a microchip. If the dog is not microchipped, make at least two or three attempts to locate the previous owner. You can post the dog’s photo on social media to spread the word or make posters to hang around the neighborhood. You can even notify the local police station and nearby humane organizations. Include a detailed description of the dog, such as its color, breed or special markings.

In the case of rehoming your own pet, the first thought that comes to mind for most pet owners looking to surrender is to call the local shelter who in many instances can help. If surrendering to a shelter or rescue group is not an option, consider creating a profile of the dog and spreading the word about their availability on social media, a pet adoption website or by hanging posters in the neighborhood. You never know who might be ready and willing to welcome a new dog to their home. They might be right in your neck of the woods.

The one thing that’s for sure when it comes to rehoming a pet is that it will take time. There is no quick and easy drop-off procedure at shelters or rescues, and finding a family that will take your dog takes time. The best way to rehome a dog is to find the right fit regardless of how eager you might be to rehome.

Rehoming a Dog With Behavior Problems

Before you decide to rehome a dog with behavior problems, take any and all steps you can to ensure the problems cannot be corrected. For example, if you’re rehoming a dog that pees in the house, make sure you’ve consulted with your veterinarian first to see if there are any resources they can recommend. If you’ve done your due diligence and still must resort to rehoming, be completely transparent with anyone interested in potential adoption about the behavioral issues your dog has. 

While you may be hesitant to share this information, because it portrays your dog as less than perfect, it’s to the benefit of everyone involved that they’re aware of the issues up front. Not disclosing this information could make an already bad situation worse. In the case of a family taking a dog in with behavioral issues, experiencing those issues firsthand without prior knowledge could endanger everyone in the new family and place the dog in another cycle of finding the right fit for a home.

Rehoming Senior Dogs

Be sure to screen any potential adopter to determine if they’re the right fit for your senior dog. Phone calls and emails are fine for initial contact, but a face-to-face meet and greet in the prospective adopter’s home is best to determine whether they’re the caring, understanding type suited to welcome a senior dog into their home.

Questions to Ask When Rehoming a Dog

If you have the opportunity to meet with a potential adopter, be sure to ask questions relevant to your dog’s specific needs. This goes back to the needs assessment discussed at the beginning of this article. Questions about the potential adopter’s living situation, family makeup and lifestyle can help identify whether they’re fit to care for your dog. They all contribute to finding a home for a dog – one that will respond to their needs.

Where to Get Help With Rehoming Your Dog

Help! I can’t find a home for my dog! For help rehoming dogs, you can reach out to your local shelter or rescue organization for advice. You may find that they’re accepting dogs and could be a good first destination to consider. Additionally, you could consult with your veterinarian for novel ideas or support resources. Lastly, you could also search for a dog rehoming service if any are available in your local area.

Whether you are rehoming an adult dog or even puppies for rehoming, bear in mind that the process of rehoming a dog takes time. The best place to rehome a dog is where they’re given the right conditions to live their best life. This is a process that can’t be rushed. Your dog deserves to find the best possible fit.

Learn more about rehoming a pet with Petfinder.