Resource Center Menu
Steps to Take Before Rehoming Your Dog

Steps to Take Before Rehoming Your Dog

Welcoming a dog into your home is a big responsibility and should only be undertaken if you accept that you are signing up for a lifelong commitment. However, life doesn’t always go as planned, and there may come a time when rehoming must be considered.

People think about rehoming their dogs for a number of reasons—behavior issues, unforeseen costs and everything in between—but it’s important to exhaust every option to find a solution before giving up. Rehoming a dog is stressful for the pet, can put increased demand on potentially already overcrowded shelters and is likely to have emotional consequences for you as well. 

Why people rehome their dogs

The first few months with a dog can be stressful—especially if you’re a first-time pet parent but no matter what the problem, there is often a solution. It might not always be easy, but like all good things in life, it’s worth giving it your all before you give in. A few of the more common reasons people rehome their dogs—as well as some steps to take before doing so—include:

Lack of time

If you’ve never had a pet before, the amount of time you need to spend to keep your dog happy and healthy might surprise you, especially if the dog is young. Additionally, if you begin pet parenthood while working from home and then experience a schedule change, your available time with your dog might  diminish. Although one-on-one time is important for bonding, a schedule change might just require a different solution to keep your dog engaged.

What to try: To keep your dog busy at home while you’re away, try interactive toys that stimulate their mind and keep them entertained for a while. Positive reinforcement-based training can help to reinforce desired behaviors, build confidence and curb unwanted behaviors. If you have a safe, fenced-in yard, a doggy door can provide your pup with outdoor access to explore and get some fresh air. If you’re away for hours at a time, consider doggy day care where your pup can socialize with other dogs and humans. Bonus—most pups come home from day care very tired from a day of fun! Do your research to find the right match for your dog and ensure they’re well enough behaved to pass the temperament tests most locations require. While walks before and after work can help most dogs keep active, if you’re having trouble getting home in time or want to let your pup out for some mid-day activity, try hiring a dog walker to give your pup a little activity (and a potty break).

A move

Moving homes is stressful enough without taking a pet into consideration. Additionally, long-distance moves make some people feel that their dog would be happier staying put. But with some forethought and planning, there are few reasons that your pup can’t come with you.

What to try: When planning your move, be sure to ask about pet restrictions and only consider places that will accept your pet. If management at a potential rental seems hesitant about allowing your dog, ask about their concerns. Offering to pay an extra deposit or showing training records or other health records may help alleviate fears about the temperament or health status of your pet.

If your dog is underfoot while you’re trying to pack and prepare for a move, consider having them stay with a close friend or relative for a day or two so you can focus your attention on what needs to get done. When moving day arrives, you’ll need to be prepared. A dog kennel, travel pet bowls and/or vehicle pet barriers make things easier and safer for car travel, while dog calming aids like treats and collars can help make the ride smooth for your pet no matter what form of transportation your move requires.

While moving far away may seem like a stressful experience on your pet, consider the alternative—them being left without their family and needing to find a new one. While the move itself may be difficult for everyone, planning long moves via car with your pet in mind and taking plenty of breaks may actually result in some fun memories. For even longer moves, you may need to research if there are quarantine requirements at your final destination or consult specialized pet transport companies to ensure your pet can stay safe and reunite with your family later on.

Behavioral issues

Behavioral issues are a common reason people cite when giving up their pet. Although it can be nerve-wracking to have to deal with these types of issues, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to do so alone.

What to try: There are a number of expert options to help you deal with whatever behavioral issues your dog might be having. Putting your dog through training classes or meeting with a pet behaviorist is a great start to address your particular concerns. If you’re not sure where to start, your veterinarian can often be a good resource for finding options in your area.


Aggression is a more serious behavioral issue where giving up can seem like the easiest option. However, when proactive steps are taken, your dog’s behavior can often be de-escalated so that they can stay with you.

What to try: It’s essential to address aggression as soon as you notice it. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to treat the issue. If your dog is acting out in an aggressive way, meet with your veterinarian or pet behaviorist immediately to determine the best course of action for your specific pet.

The cost of your pet

Having a pet can be expensive, especially if you have to deal with the cost of an unexpected health issue or training. Even so, there are some things you can do to help curb the costs.

What you can try: Monthly pet insurance premiums are often relatively inexpensive and can be a good way to help mitigate future health costs. Your local shelter might also be able to help point you in the direction of other organizations in your area that offer low-cost options for things like spay and neuter services. Vaccination clinics and affordable vet services can also be found through Petco’s veterinary services network.

Health concerns

Dealing with ongoing health concerns not only affects your budget but can also be emotionally taxing. However, giving up on your pet, especially when they need you most is not the answer.

What you can try: In addition to some of the options listed above, look for online support groups or ask your veterinarian about local resources for pets with similar issues to your own. The support of others may help you as you help your pet. And remember that their less than optimal health doesn’t take away from the unconditional love they give you!

A new baby

Bringing a baby home is a wonderful time for a family, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Before deciding that handling a baby and a puppy at the same time is too much, try these easy steps.

What you can try: To start, training and early socialization is essential to ensure dogs know how to handle themselves around other people. It’s also key to begin to introduce them to the change that’s about to occur. As you bring in new baby gear, allow your dog to smell some of the furniture and toys (wash before giving back to baby!). As your nursery is finalized, let your dog explore the space so they become used to the new norm. Before you introduce your dog to your baby, offer them the scent of a used blanket.

As you’re buying new gear for your baby, don’t forget your pup! You can assume that when baby comes home you’ll be busy and exhausted, so load up on mentally stimulating interactive toys for your dog and consider setting up a dog walker who can help ensure your dog gets the exercise they need to stay healthy and to tire them out.


If you’re allergic to your dog, or someone in your household develops allergies, it can be hard to make it through the day. All hope is not lost, though. 

What you can try: Speak with your doctor immediately about relieving dog allergies. Over-the-counter medications may be all the relief you’ll need, depending on your allergy’s severity, but your doctor can also prescribe medications more specific to your needs. A specialized vacuum meant to capture pet hair and keeping your dog on a strict and proper grooming schedule can help as well.

Rehoming your dog properly

When you’ve tried your best and exhausted all the alternatives, sometimes rehoming is the only solution. If you’re going to head down this road, it’s important to do it the right way so that you know your dog will be properly taken care of. If you can’t find someone in your own life who is responsible and loving and would be interested in taking in your pet, there are a number of ways to go about finding a loving home, including asking your veterinarian and local shelter for advice.

If you’ll be finding a new home for your pet yourself, be sure to do it the right way, by asking the proper questions, knowing what to expect in your first meeting and following up with the appropriate steps.