A dog receiving a veterinary check up

Rehoming your dog: what to do if you can no longer look after your pet

“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.” We’ve all heard the saying, and no responsible pet owner would welcome a dog to their home if they ever had the intention of giving him up in the future. But sometimes life throws changes at us that we couldn’t predict, and giving up our dog is the only possible option.

Perhaps you’ve been offered a promotion, which means relocating overseas. Maybe you’ve developed a serious allergy to your dog, which means keeping him risks harming your health. Or perhaps your own health has deteriorated, and you need to move to a nursing home.

Whatever the reason you’re considering rehoming your dog, we know this isn’t a decision you’re taking lightly – so please, go easy on yourself.

This article aims to help you make the rehoming process as straightforward as possible, to give your dog the best chance of a long and happy life.

Before you start…

Always take time to consider your options. The more time you have, the better chance you have of making the right choice for both you and your dog. 

The options for rehoming your dog include giving him to an animal shelter, finding a new home with a friend, family member or colleague, or temporary fostering.

Animal shelters and permanent rehoming centres

Finding a permanent rehoming centre is often the best chance of ensuring your dog gets adopted by a loving family. Staff will ask questions about your circumstances but they won’t judge you for your decision. 

Any good animal shelter will interview prospective owners to ensure they have the time, space and personal circumstances to provide a loving home for your dog – and most rescue centres carry out home checks on any prospective owner.

The downside…

Many good animal shelters have a waiting list. Some may ask for a donation to rehome your dog (though, unless your reasons for rehoming are financial, most responsible dog owners will be happy to contribute). 

Private rehoming

If you prefer to have total control over your choice of new owner for your dog or puppy, ask around to see if you can find a willing new owner. Consider pinning up a poster on the notice board at work. Ask friends and family to spread the word. Even speak to your local vet or newsagent to see if they can help with advertising. 

If you can rehome your dog with a friend or family member you’ll find it easier knowing he’s gone to a good home. If you can give him to someone you know well, you may even get the chance to visit from time to time, or stay up-to-date with his progress through photos or emails, which can soften the blow of the separation from your dog.

The downside…

Don’t rush into your decision, and always interview prospective new owners in person, if you can. Avoid giving your dog to someone you don’t know, and avoid offering him as ‘free to a good home’ which is likely to attract the wrong type of potential owner. 

Temporary rehoming

Perhaps your circumstances mean you need to give up your dog temporarily – maybe you’re going into hospital for an indefinite stay, or you’ve been posted abroad with your job. If this is the case, you need a dog fostering programme. Use the internet or speak to your local vet to find details of your nearest temporary dog rehoming centre or service. 

The downside…

Like many good animal shelters, temporary rehoming services often have a waiting list, so always plan ahead if possible, and take your time to make your decision.

“If you prefer to have total control over your choice of new owner for your dog or puppy, ask around to see if you can find a willing new owner.”

Don’t forget that if your pet is pedigree, nearly all Breed Societies for that particular breed will have a rehoming arm that may be able to easily help. 

Need advice on rehoming your dog?

For expert advice on the best ways to rehome your dog, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.