Finding a Good Home for Your Dog

When You Have to Give Up Your Dog

giving up a dog, looking for a new home for your dog
© Lee Jeffryes/Moment Open/Getty Images

Giving up a beloved dog can be a heartbreaking situation for everyone in your family. Once you have made this very difficult decision, your next step is to find a new home for your dog. It won't be easy to say goodbye, but it's essential you take the right steps to give your dog the best chance at a happy life.

Are You Sure You Can't Keep Your Dog?

Before you decide to give up your dog, make sure you have explored and exhausted all options. Your dog is a social animal who has become attached to you and your family. Sending him to a new home can be traumatic and stressful. There may be some ways you can get help (depending on the reason you cannot keep your dog).

If your dog has a medical issue, talk to your vet about options. If there is a behavior problem, seek help from a dog trainer or an animal behaviorist. If money is the issue, try working on your budget and find ways to save money on dog care

What to Do If You Must Give Up Your Dog

If you have tried everything and you are still unable to keep your dog, then it is up to you to find a good home for him. Finding a good home for your dog is part of being a responsible dog owner.

Animal shelter overcrowding leads to the euthanasia of millions of pets every year. If you bring your dog to animal control, also known as "the pound," there is a risk that he may end up being euthanized. 

Abandonment is not an acceptable choice. It's a tragic fact that some people will move away and leave a dog behind or drive their dogs out to the country and leave them all alone. This is one of the cruelest things a person can do to a dog. 

If your dog has aggressive behavior, it is irresponsible to rehome him without working to resolve the issue and informing the new home of his history of aggression. If possible, work with a trainer or behaviorist to improve or resolve the issues before rehoming. Be as descriptive as possible when discussing your dog's behavior, especially if there are specific triggers like other animals or children. Unfortunately, humane euthanasia may be the most ethical thing to do when a dog has extreme aggression issues.

How to Find a New Home for Your Dog

It can be a challenge to find someone who can not only take your dog but who can provide a great home. You are ultimately responsible for finding the best home possible for your dog, a task that can feel very overwhelming, especially during such an emotional time. There are some ways to make it a bit easier to search for your dog's new home.

  • Write up a brief fact sheet about your dog. Cover details like age, breed, size, color, health, temperament, and personality. Be honest about your dog, especially when it comes to behavioral and health issues. Include some cute photos too! Put everything on a small poster or flyer for distribution (leave out personal info like last name and address to be safe).
  • Tell all friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances that you are looking for a new home for your dog. Explain your situation and the fact that you want to find a great home for your dog. Give them copies of your dog's flyer to hand out.
  • Post your dog's information on social media, tagging or alerting anyone you know who works with pets or simply loves animals. Again, explain your situation and describe your dog with detail. Post cute photos of your dog that show off his unique personality. Try to get your dog's information spread around the web! Just make sure not to include personal information (like address and last name) that could put your family at risk.
  • Be open and honest about medical issues and behavior problems. It's unfair to your dog and his new family if you do not disclose these things in advance.
  • Tell your veterinarian and staff about your situation; they may be able to help. See if they will post your dog's flyer in the lobby and put the info on social media. However, do not drop your dog off for services and fail to come back and pick him up. Never abandon your dog on the doorstep of a veterinary office. These are seriously irresponsible acts and are unfair to your dog and the vet!
  • If potential new owners come forward, make sure you check them out well so your dog does not end up needing a home again. Meet first in a neutral public location. Ask for information so you can try to verify that they will be responsible owners, such as character references and employment info. Ask to see their homes and meet other pets or family members. If they already have pets, ask for medical references and a recommendation letter from their vet.
  • If you cannot place your dog in a forever home yourself, contact animal rescue groups and “no-kill” animal shelters in your area. If your dog is purebred or mixed with a specific, obvious breed, try a breed-specific rescue group. See if someone can foster your dog.
  • Please, please do not euthanize your dog or abandon him simply because you cannot find him a home.

Remember to be patient. Finding the right home can take some time.

Important note: Pets in abusive or neglectful situations should always be removed and placed in good homes. If you see a dog being treated inhumanely, please take action. Contact your local authorities immediately.