“Honestly she should just re-home the dog. In different hands, he would totally succeed, but I really don’t see this family being able to turn it around for this dog.”
“Yeah, sometimes people can’t accept that they don’t have what a dog requires.”
That is a conversation I was having this morning with one of my employees. A conversation that we’ve had, in similar ways, many times before.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about whether or not re-homing a dog is taboo or if “getting rid of a dog” is what is really taboo. Anytime a human family makes a decision to have their canine companion go live somewhere else they can expect to receive criticism. I will admit that anytime I see anyone who has to “find a new home” for their dog on social media, I shake my head and think to myself “how could they even consider doing that?”
I was raised in a family where I was taught that dogs are a part of our family. Just like you wouldn’t give away your kid if it had behavior problems, an illness, a disability or some other challenge, it is not an option to give away a dog. Unless that dog was a serious liability to the safety and well being of my family, finding it a new home would never be on the table in my house. In the case that a dog was endangering the life of my family, I would be considering euthanasia — not rehoming. Euthanasia for severe aggression problems is a whole other topic.
Even dogs that have aggression towards strangers can still live peacefully with their family units in their homes. I should know. I lived with one for a decade. Peaches was never allowed to interact with visitors to our home, but the thought of getting rid of him never crossed our mind. He would be put in a room, upstairs, with his toys and a bone whenever guests came over, and that was that. He was a wonderful family pet. But what if someone finds himself or herself in a canine mis-match after adopting or purchasing a new dog? Is it possible that a dog could be really unhappy with the situation just like his family? I don’t just think yes, I know yes.
In my career I’ve seen it time and time again. I’ve seen the scenario where I really just want to give a family a different dog, one that is a better match for them and then find the right home for their current dog. Let me tell you a story about a dog named Gus.
Gus the Cockapoo was purchased by a great family with the time and resources needed to care for, train and love a canine companion. Yet, as Gus matured it was clear he did not enjoy the companionship of the young boys in the home. The boys so desperately wanted to run and play with Gus, to hug him, to have him sleep in their bed, to bond with him. And Gus? Well. He just wanted to follow the mom around all day. He became increasingly aggressive as he matured, and bit the kids on several occasions. He loved being with the mom in the family, but after evaluating this dog around the kids it was clear Gus was very stressed living in that home. Although it would likely be confusing to him at first to be rehomed, rehoming would be the best option for Gus’s long term emotional well being, and finding the perfect family dog for his current family would mean I could save a dog’s life from the shelter. If I could find the right person for people for Gus, then rehoming would mean saving another dogs life.
Putting their trust in me, Gus’s family surrendered Gus over to me and allowed me to place a new dog, Freddy, in their home. A dog that I temperament tested and hand picked from our county shelter for their family based on their lifestyle and needs. Gus lived at my training center for only a few short weeks until I found the perfect match. Fast forward one year – I am happy to tell you that rehoming Gus was the best thing that could have ever happened for both Gus’s new owners and his previous ones. Freddy, their new dog, is everything a young boy could dream of in growing up with a dog. And Gus is king of the castle in his new home where he doesn’t have to deal with any kids, ever.
So, now I ask you, is rehoming really that taboo?
There is a right and a wrong way to rehome a dog. When done the right way, it’s win win for everyone.
Here’s my thoughts when it comes to properly rehoming a dog:
- Do not rehome your dog unless you feel that it would be in the best interest of the dog. Find a qualified dog training professional who can come to your home and give you a realistic assessment of whether or not rehoming is necessary.
- Find a reputable dog rescue willing to help you rehome your dog. Do not contact a rescue group saying you need to “give up” your or “surrender” your dog. These are huge turn off words and make nice people like me and rescue groups unwilling to help you. You need to explain that you have worked with a professional dog trainer who is recommending rehoming your dog for the best interest of your dog, and that you need assistance through their network in finding placement for your dog.
- Be prepared to make a donation (I suggest a minimum of $200) to any rescue group willing to help you by listing your dog as a “courtesy listing” through their network of available dogs for adoption. This is the least you can do for their time, energy and passion that goes into vetting prospective homes.
- Understand that your dog is still your responsibility until you find it a suitable home, and that there is no guaranteed timeline for how long this will take, or that it will ever happen. Sometimes it’s a few weeks, other times it’s a few years.
- If you rehome your dog and are considering getting a new dog, hire a qualified dog training professional to select the perfect family pet for you so that you don’t wind up in this situation again. Trust their expertise and honestly with you. The perfect dog for you is not likely what you think it is, which is how you ended up in this situation in the first place. The good news is, there IS a perfect dog for you. There is a perfect dog for everyone.
Lastly, rehoming your dog NEVER means surrendering your dog to a shelter. That’s not rehoming, that’s abandonment.
Dee Hoult, MBA, CDBC, CPDT, CTDI
Dee is the owner of Applause Your Paws Dog Training, South Florida’s largest privately owned pet dog training company, and Miami’s number one user rated and reviewed dog trainers on yelp.com. At only 34 years old she’s semi retired these days from training dogs, but maintains her great sense of humor and no nonsense attitude when it comes to training dogs to be the ultimate human companion. With her new found freedom through her successful business, Dee volunteers regularly in the animal welfare community, mentors other entrepreneurs, and dedicates her time to reading, writing and traveling. Dee shares her home with her English husband, two border collies, a yellow labrador, and two cats. Her key to success? Be so busy working on your own grass that you don’t have time to worry if someone else’s grass is greener. Woof.