Thank you for rehoming your dog.

I can’t always be the person I want to be. But I can try to be the person my dog needs me to be.

This thought hit me as I snuggled Layla the other night. My boyfriend and friends were out, but I’d chosen to remain at home to be with my dog. Layla was struggling with the side effects of some medication changes, and while I knew she would survive if I went out for the evening, I could also tell that it would be very difficult on her. She paced for awhile after Matt left, agitated with the stress of the day, but eventually settled to chew on a toy before sighing deeply and drifting off to sleep.


While not common, this scenario has happened a handful of times over the nine years of Layla’s life. Just as there are times when I need her to anchor me and help me discover the joy in small things, sometimes she also needs some extra help. And isn’t that what a relationship is all about?

Balancing our needs with the needs of those we love is never easy. It’s important to remember that dogs are their own selves, individual as each of us. They have their own likes and dislikes, their own little peculiarities. Their individuality is part of what draws us to them, even as their alien culture sometimes confuses us or sets us at ends. We’ll never know what it’s like to live in their world of scent, just as they’ll never understand the joy of a sunset over a lake. But we can still connect over our shared interests, and that’s a pretty biologically amazing thing.

A good number of the training challenges I encounter are due to an imbalance in the human-canine relationship. While some give and take is healthy, when one side pulls more than the other side can bear, problems come to light. Often this is a case where neither party is a good match for the other. Perhaps the human wants an agility dog who will love the excitement and competition of a trial, while the dog just wants to hike in the quiet suburbs. Or sometimes it’s the dog who’s pushing, needing more and more physical and mental exercise while the person just wanted a snuggly companion to relax with on the couch after work. Mismatches like this can learn to live together, but making a better choice of companions in the first place would have saved a lot of heartbreak and frustration on both parts.

But what if you’re already stuck in a mismatch? Not all relationships are meant to last, and that’s as true for people and dogs as it is for people and other people. It’s sad that people are often guilted into keeping a dog who is a truly awful match for them.

Understand that I’m not saying that dogs can be thrown away or changed out like shoes with each new season. However, if you’ve found yourself in a truly unbalanced match with your dog, I think that rehoming that dog can often be a very kind and responsible choice. If your dog will not be able to live happily or safely with you but can do so with someone else, one of the best things you can do for that dog is to help him or her find that perfect match. Living in an unbalanced relationship solely because you’ve been taught to believe that a dog is a lifetime commitment is at its best selfish, because you’re letting your fear of what others will think interfere with your dog’s right to live in the best home possible for him or her. At its worst, this sort of situation often resembles the most abusive of human relationships, with one party for all intents and purposes held hostage by the other’s needs. It’s not healthy, and it’s a very strong thing to recognize that and take steps to repair it… even if those steps lead to the rehoming of your dog.

If you’re in the difficult position of considering whether to rehome your dog, it’s important to take an honest look at the situation and to do your homework. First of all, honestly explore whether your dog is a safe and suitable candidate for rehoming. If your dog has a bite history or has significant behavioral issues, consult a qualified trainer to get their opinion on whether your dog should be rehomed. In some states, you can still be held liable for your dog’s behavior (including bites) even after rehoming him or her to a new owner with full disclosure of any history of aggression. Other behavioral issues than aggression also deserve a thorough evaluation. Separation anxiety or fear issues can be very difficult to live with and modify, and if you, the person who cares for your dog the most in the entire world, are unable or unwilling to put the effort into solving these issues, what makes you think that someone else who doesn’t yet have that bond will do so?

Finally, do your homework. There are lots of rehoming options out there, and it’s important to choose the one that will be the best for your dog. If you’re rehoming your dog privately, make sure to thoroughly check references and perhaps perform a home visit before giving your dog up to anyone. Be honest about your dog’s personality and history, and ask open-ended questions to get a better idea about the sort of home your dog will be living in.

Rehoming a dog is never easy, but if done responsibly it can often be the very kindest option when there’s just not a good match between dog and owner. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However, if you do need to rehome your dog for any reason, please be honest to yourself and others about what happened. Make sure to do your homework in the future so that you can make a better match with your next dog.

Layla would have been a horrible match for most families. She’s simply not what people usually look for in a pet. She’s quick and smart, but also anxious and touch-sensitive. She doesn’t tolerate fools (human or canine) and isn’t afraid of making a point with her teeth. That said, when I adopted Layla I made the sort of match that most people dream about. Instead of being at odds, our personalities complement each other. We understand one another and work well together. I’m forever grateful to her previous owner for recognizing that their relationship was never going to work. By giving Layla up, she gave both Layla and myself an amazing gift. She gave us each other.

May every family be so lucky.

47 responses to “Thank you for rehoming your dog.

  1. Great thoughts. I would like to add that a good breeder will always take that dog back, no matter what. If the pairing doesn’t work out, you don’t always have to rely on rescue etc. Get your dog from a REAL breeder and you have support for the lifetime of that animal.

  2. Sheila Retherford

    Recently started working with rescue group for Malinois and your post is like words to my heart. Great post, thanks.

  3. Very well written. I work at a shelter and handle all of the incoming animals. It get’s frustrating dealing with the people who view animals as a disposable convenience. It’s nice to occasionally work with a person who is actually looking out for the animal’s best interest through rehoming. Every one of our family’s misfits is ours because someone else couldn’t handle him/her. Their loss is my wife and I’s immense gain.

    • Not everyone who gives up an animal or tries to rehome their pet views their animal as a “disposable convenience”. I am trying to rehome my dog after MANY MONTHS of working with her on various issues that she has. I rescued her from the SPCA and while I know they cannot provide me with all of her history (as I know they dont have it) I expected a lot more support. This choice that I have made to rehome came after a lot of soul searching and tears. I need for my dog to go to a home that is going to make her quality of life better for her.

  4. Amara Vercnocke

    Beautiful post! Thank you !!

  5. I got a 2-year-old, neutered male rescue dog in April. Discovered he was not potty trained. Worked and worked with him, the rescue group gave suggestions and even sent a trainer to tell me everything I knew anyway After I asked for the relinquish sheet that his owners provided, I found they relinquished him because they had tried for two years to train him and couldn’t. It has now been six months, and he is still not trained. I have kept him tethered to me whenever we are in the house all that time. Finally, last week I got a belly band to give myself a break. I am going back and forth about whether to give him back to the rescue group, but he is so lovable otherwise, and I am afraid they will just re-home him with some other unsuspecting person who will not be as good to him as I am. I don’t want him to end up being in his kennel 24/7 except for potty breaks. It would break my heart. He is such a lover.

    • I really feel for you, as this sounds very disheartening. Has the vet checked if there is some physical reason for the problem? There are also animal communicators that can communicate with your dog and see if there is some underlying psychological problem that may be an issue. At least then you could work on it with some idea of his problems. Not all people believe in animal communicators but they do work if you find a good one. Just check their credentials. Good luck with you beautiful companion and I applaud your tenacity to keep him and continue managing the problem.

  6. Although I see your point, I worry that posts like this will make people think it’s okay to rehome their pets. And with 3 to 4 million animals euthanized in shelters every year, it’s impossible to keep your pet safe even if you think you found a great home for him. Not to mention is he eating good food? Has proper vet care? Is he being treated well? Is he locked in a kennel all the time? You don’t even touch on the emotional stress that being rehome causes in pets. As an owner of two rescue dogs, one shelter rehome and one private rehome, I can say without a doubt my dogs are paranoid they are going to be left again. Yes, some situations are so bad that they require a rehome. But please do not promote it or make it more okay than America already thinks it is. The are millions of animals in shelter care who’s owners already made that decision. Research first people! Our pets get no say in who adopts them. Do them a favor and make sure you are going to be a forever home before getting their hopes up. Just my two cents from an anxious animal lover.

    • “As an owner of two rescue dogs, one shelter rehome and one private rehome, I can say without a doubt my dogs are paranoid they are going to be left again.”

      I’m afraid you cannot say this “without a doubt.” You don’t and can’t know what your dogs are thinking. They may have anxiety issues, but that can be related to a number of factors that has nothing to do with being rehomed in the past. The number of successful adoptions of dogs that have no behavior problems is proof that rehoming, even multiple times for many dogs, does not cause anxiety.

      And people already think it’s okay to rehome their pets, that’s why shelters are overwhelmed. However, responsible rehoming, as outlined here, does not contribute to the euthanasia rate and often leads to a better quality of life for the dog.

      • Alright allow me to rephrase: I cannot know what my dogs are thinking but I has strong suspicions that their anxiety has to do with the fact that they were shipped away by families that they thought loved them and now are worried it may happen again. You are entitled to your opinion as I am mine. However, you cannot say that more dogs entering into the shelter system doesn’t contribute to the euthanasia rate. More dogs in rescues and shelters means less space, breed specific rescues and no kill shelters have less space to offer and more dogs end up in high kill situations. By taking the guilt out of rehoming, you are just making more people feel better about rehoming their pet without thinking of the consequences in the big picture. Even if your dog gets a slot in a no kill shelter, that’s one less cage for another dog that will end up at a kill shelter and potentially not make it out. I’m not saying that there are not situations where rehoming is best for everyone; I’m simply saying by writing a post titled “thank you for rehoming your dog” you are taking a lot of the guilt associated with rehoming out and making it not a big deal.

    • UGH. Can we separate irresponsible with responsible? I think the point of the article is that if done right it can work really well. If one should take anything from it its the fact that its possible to find a good home for a pet. Responsible people, who can’t honestly keep a situation going, are going to try their damndest to find a good home for a pet/friend. They are going to reference check etc. Irresponsible people will always be…irresponsible people. It is what it is. One article on rehoming done right is not going to change that – but it may help those who are genuine and in need of making such a difficult change, to do it right. So shaming them aint going to help. Keep an open mind. Trust that there are some good people out there.

      • Maybe the problem is the irresponsible heavily outweighs the responsible. Yes, there are some people out there that honestly CANNOT make it work and are completely tore up that they have to rehome their pet and are going to try and do it right. But the vast majority of people are irresponsible. And so many situations that could have been worked out are never sought after because people just throw their dog away when the going gets tough or something doesn’t work out. Articles like this piss me off because it’s just an ego stroke for those people. They truely believe they ‘did the right thing’ as dogs are being euthanized every single day. It makes them sleep at night, thinking someone else out there is loving the dog that they just ‘couldn’t handle’. They never come to terms with the thought that maybe, just maybe that dog they dropped off at the shelter is the one that got the needle in the arm. And with euthanasia rates at around 15000 animals a day, it’s a decent possibility. Nah, I’ll shame them till the end of time. Dogs don’t have a voice. People do.

    • Hannah, there are many reasons why people might pass their dogs on. They are leaving the court, the are moving into rented housing where pet are not allowed, they are going into nursing homes. Or the dog is totally unsuitable, or they simply cannot cope with the dog, or the neighbours have complained and the have council orders to remove the dog from their property.
      I believe I the US it is common we the wage eared loses his/e job. No employment benefits means they cannot keep their dog — many do which is why you see homeless people on the streets with a dog.
      The alterative for the dog is euthanasia (if the owners can afford it) or simply abandoning the dog and hop it finds a ‘good home’.

      “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.” Elvis Presley

      • Dude, I work a low paying job, have moved, and have been through situations where it would have been easier to dump my dogs off on someone, but I never have. I took the responsibility on of being a dog owner. That means when I move, I find dog friendly housing. I budget for my dogs needs. I train them when they have bad habits. The problem is, many people do not want to deal with all the responsibilities that go with having a dog. The only people I feel for are the old people who are going into nursing homes; they usually honestly have no say. Most behavioral problems can be fixed if worked with. You can’t just give up your kid with ADHD because you ‘can’t handle it’.

      • Hannah, I do not know your circumstances. But I presume since you say you have a ‘low paying job” that you have never been reduced to living on the streets. From your photo you look very young so possible have limited knowledge or experience as to how ‘other people’ live. Which probably explains you judgemental attitude to others.
        Yes, there ARE irresponsible people out there. Selfish, thoughtless and unkind. But these are NOT the people who “rehome” their dogs. Not even, by and large, the people who take their dog to a shelter. The irresponsible people leave their dogs tied up and starving, or dump them somewhere well away from home. Or beat them, or let them die from disease or injury.
        Then, of course, ADHD diagnosis IS a sign that parents HAVE given up on their kids. Can’t cope, can’t drop him off at an orphanage, so drug him. You might like to Google for:
        Marilyn Wedge Ph.D. “Suffer the Children, Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD”

    • Hannah, The bond is key and if the bond is not there it is best to rehome the dog. You should never stand in judgement. I can give you both sides of the coin. For me I would live in a car with one of my dogs the other dog and I have never bonded. I don’t know why, I have tried we are just not a good match. He would make a wonderful dog for someone and they would love him far more than I ever could so why shouldn’t he have that opportunity? It would break my heart because I love and care for him but I also know he deserves that human animal bond that I cannot give him. Don’t get me wrong he is very well cared for and sleeps in my bed but just like some humans we have never had that bond.

  7. Reblogged this on Train Positive Dog! and commented:
    Doing what is best for the dog – not always easy. This post covers the unfortunate reality that there is often a mismatch between dog and person.

  8. Wonderful. See this issue on both ends: folks who haven’t done their research properly, and very sadly, rescues or shelters who place dogs in homes that are exceptionally ill-suited for that dog. Sometimes that is a very honest mistake (the dog is inhibited in the shelter, and it’s impossible to get a real feel for his concerns or needs); sometimes, having worked on the other side of the doors, its a case of wanting to save every dog or cat (and sometimes that isn’t ultimately the most humane option for those dogs and cats). But the saddest situation is when a dog ends up with a family that is ill-suited to accommodate his needs, but re-homing is not an option for that dog (due to severe separation-related issues, or aggression). And then the owners have to face the decision of euthanasia versus continuing to live with that dog, in a situation where their quality of life or the dog’s quality of life is significantly compromised.

  9. Thank you SO much!
    I took on a little dog who was destined for a bullet, but she just didn’t fit in with my others — especially my very nervous bitch.
    Very reluctantly, I decided to ‘surrender’ her :-( before she was killed by Sally, or even one of the others when their patience an out!. I tried to find some ‘terrier’ person to take her on as she was in her own way, a terrific dog, but because she was a mix and no beauty, nobody would take her :-(

    We have now taken on another — who was a real misfit in her home — a weird little dog — but very very good with other dogs. So long as we humans just remember that she is “mad” we all get along great!
    She is a great (mostly!). I finally understand what everybody has been saying re ‘food’ and ‘shaping’! (my other dogs are Kelpies and German Shepherds, and their training method is “Just TELL me what you want, I haven’t got the patience for a guessing game!”

    PS I think that Mad Millie (a Speagle) has some underlying neurological problems as she will suddenly and without apparent cause “spook”. We have learned to just ignore her — leave her alone, and she will come home, wagging her tail behind her :-)

  10. Pingback: Dogs For Rehoming

  11. I know this is an old post but I have a small yorkie that I have had since she was 8 weeks old. She is 3 1/2 now and she is only about 6lbs…she is a very hyper/anxious dog and has some stomach issues requiring special foods. We are gone at work all day and she is in a crate for 4 to 5 hours then I let her out on lunch and then another 4 to 5 hours until we get home. She pees in her crate a lot I think from her anxiety or maybe just because she is mad that we are gone so much. I have tried everything to get her to stop but she continues to pee in her crate almost everyday. Also there are many times when we get home and go out to dinner as a family leaving her yet again. We also take around five – three day vacations during the year and she has to be boarded during all of these times. My kids love her and so do we but I cant help but feel like she would be happier with someone that is home with her all day. When I think about this all I feel is guilt…like I am giving up on her if I give her away. I love her so much but I get mad at her a lot because of the accidents she has in her crate. As a busy working mother it is hard to come home twice a day and after a long day at work and clean up her crate, her bedding, and give her a bath and still cook dinner, take care of my kids, do homework and get ready for bed. I have cried myself to sleep thinking about this because I know if we rehome her she will miss us…she will probably have stomach problems from the stress but in the end will she be happier? Will a new family decide she is too much and abandon her too? I am so torn it is literally making me feel sick. Any advise would be appreciated.

    • Good for you for wanting to be better by her!
      Could you make some lifestyle changes to help improve things for your little girl? Perhaps set her up in an expen with potty pads and puzzle toys. Similar to the recommended set up in this article –
      Have you looked into a doggy daycare for her? That would enable her to have more time with people instead of being isolated. There are also MANY hotels that are dog-friendly, you could try taking her with you on vacation or check the many dog camps that are available as well. If you google dog-friendly vacations there are a ton of great vacation spots that also allow dogs.
      Is she anxious when you leave/return? Dogs HATE to potty where they sleep and I worry that maybe there is an underlying anxiety contributing to the urination.

  12. THANK YOU! For writing this post!

    I’ve had enough of those so-called “dog person” or “dog lovers” out there who shun or judge people who decided to rehome their dogs…

    I am in the process of doing one myself… Because if I have to choose between our family’s health and keeping my dog, then I’d choose our family’s… But does these “dog lovers” or “dog person” out there understands what kind of choice I had to make and how it broke my heart? NO!

    Even when I explained to them and PLEAD them to please understand my situation and help me out, what came from their mouths were ‘you didn’t properly take care of your dogs!’ ‘How could you do such horrible acts!!’ ‘Your dogs must be sad if you rehome it!’ One even reprimanded me and proceeding on bragging about her dogs who are so sweet, obedient, calm, and not much of a work in the house which broke my heart even more than it already was!!

    Reading your post I feel more at ease… Isn’t over for me, but at least it helps me so much that someone understands…

    • Chelle, have a kiss and a cuddle from me. I know just how you feel.

    • thank you. I am dealing with the same thing right now. I am in the process of trying to rehome my pet and am getting a lot of grief from people but I know that my home is not the best place for her. We make her more anxious and nervous than she needs to be.

  13. Thank you for this post! I am currently thinking about rehoming my dog for his sake. He is a wonderful, handsome, smart, beagle/lab mix that we rescued. At first he was easy to handle and when we got him I was only working 3 days a week. Now, my husband and I are working over 40 hours a week each and I don’t have as much time to spend with him. He is an extremely high energy dog and I don’t have enough time to give him what he needs. I’m sitting here crying writing this because I am so emotionally invested in this wonderful creature. I know deep down that he will be better off in a home with another dog and with owners that can give him more time. “Mismatch” is the perfect way to describe our situation and I am having an extremely difficult time facing that. I’ve been hearing comments about not following through on the commitment we made to this dog and every other article I’ve read has been full of “rehoming shame”. I just want to do what’s best for my dog and it’s nice to read such a supportive article.

  14. Thank you so very much for this post. Sorry if this is LONG but it is helping me process, so thank you. Today my heart is aching so much and this helped. Yesterday I drove my dear precious friend and family member back to his foster mother to be taken back into the wonderful program that originally rescued him. This is a rescue that I have volunteered with which makes me feel like an even bigger loser and so judged (even if I am just projecting this).

    He is not the first dog that I have needed to rehome which makes me feel even worse…I am a born animal rescuer (I stopped and picked up a dog off the side of the road last year and it rode to camp with me and my kids…and I almost stopped to rescue a bear that I thought was a dog…no joke….I got my car stuck in a ditch rescuing a turtle once…I am an animal nut), and so inevitably, I have ended up with some special needs dogs all of whom I have believed I could/should be able to work magic with…I know that this is not always true. Last year one of my rescues (a strong lab/rottie mix) developed fear aggression toward children (after having leg surgery and being crated on rest) and began barking and lunging at them (except at my own young children). We worked intensively with a trainer, but he ended up grabbing one of my children’s friends by the shirt while on a lead with me. He is now in an amazing home with a couple who doesn’t have children and after more training with them, he is a happy and balanced dog…the couple sends me updates and awesome pictures of them hiking together in beautiful locations…he just needed a quiet home without unpredictable little people coming in and out…it took me MANY tearful months to consult with enough people and force myself to rehome him…and now he is in the perfect home!

    The precious canine friend and family member who I said goodbye to yesterday is such an amazing loving best cuddling and kind but very anxious herding dog who needs a job and stimulation that I am not able to provide, despite trying very hard for a year and working with a trainer and consulting with the vet it had become clear that I could not keep him safe or happy. We adopted him as a puppy, and at the time had the lab/rottie and they tired each other out. After his adopted brother left, he developed a lot of anxious behavior and was peeing all over the house and running around and crying all the time….we worked with a trainer and exercised him a lot…still anxious and afraid to be left… I thought he was lonely. He had recently become fearful of his crate and despite training him back into it twice ( a very slow process) he had recently broken a tooth destroying a metal crate when I left him for one hour. Because I couldn’t leave him in a crate, he was loose in the house, so I had to lock doors and put up gates which he occasionally knocked down and got into things he shouldn’t have…hello poison control. Additionally, he had been jumping our fence and running far from the house…once he did this while I was in the shower and my young daughter left the house and ran across many streets to get him… He is very smart and also was able to open doors and baby gates. Though we worked hard to exercise him enough and train him and finally even adopted another dog as a playmate, he was constantly creating stress in our home because we were unable to find a way for him to be safe and for our family not to be stressed about him. When we were out it was like having an app running in the background eating my battery…wondering what he had broken down and was eating while we were gone and if I would need to call the emergency vet again … He herds so he was never really able to relax with the comings and goings of children, plus he was constantly on high alert in the window watching for all signs of life going by and hoping to get out and herd it. The level of stress in the home due to his behavior was increasing his anxiety and it was a vicious cycle….the young children and my husband weren’t really able to help that much with training. Everyone in the family was SO frustrated. I was not able to accept that I couldn’t do it all (and homeschool one of my children who has some learning issues) and train the puppy we adopted for him.

    Finally some friends, my husband and the vet and trainer and even a friend with his rescue let me know that I was basically killing myself, and becoming useless to everyone (including the dog) over the needs of this dog that I loved so much, but who was not a good match for our family. It took me several months to accept this and follow through with having the rescue begin the process of rehoming him. He deserves so much more! He will be a wonderful agility dog or running companion for someone and will do better in a home where there is predictability, consistency and someone who has more time to focus on him and meet his needs. The rescue is solid and will do everything they can to ensure a good match this time.

    I just have to allow myself to be okay and heal. Thank you and peace to all of you who are going through something like this.

    • A year ago, we rescued a sweet, shy hound dog named Huck. In many ways, he was the perfect dog. He never barked, never was aggressive, seemed to be happy in our home. He was never interested in toys or balls, mostly he just lay about the house. We walked him 3 times a day, tAught him to lay(that was the only thing we could teach him), gave him good food, treats, loved him as best we could. But then my husband went away for his 2 weeks a reserved duty and we started having issues with him being destructive. First it was clothes and pillosw(no big deal). The. It was our couch and chairs. We put him on the porch during the day and he escaped through the screen. He can’t be in a crate Bc hes broken out of 3 already. The day he escaped from the porch, I closed all of the bedroom doors and left him in his usual spot In the computer room. Li had to return to work but when I came home 2 hours later, he had destroyed our blinds, our Lazy boy, a bar stool, ripped planks and the magnetic strips from our plantation shutters, tore up our guest
      bed, ripped down the vertical blinds, and destroyed two spindles on our staircAse. That night, We bought another heavy duty crate and put him in it in the only room in the house where we could close the door to prevent any more destruction. hebroke out of the crate and clawed through the door frame. In all of his destruction, he broke 2 teeth and all of his nails. After the first major destruction, we took him to the vet and they found nothing wrong with him. Gave us Xanax for him which only made him worse. We had to re home him because we couldn’t keep him safe or our house safe from him. I’m feeling horribly guilty that I failed him. He was our first dog. We tried the thunder shirt, calming spray, chamomile tea for calming, frozen Kongs, giving him clothing of ours, even had a duvet stuffed with our clothes to help him not feel so anxious. I’m just at a loss as to how our doc who had been safely left in the house for a year suddenly went bezerk when we left. I’m assuming separation anxiety but wouldn’t it have shown up sooner?

  15. We have just rehomed our beloved springer 6 mths old to a neighbour. We are so heartbroken but due to possession dominance with our children we couldn’t keep her. The neighbour is constantly working springers of his own and has experience with this breed. She almost said thank you to us as she ran to him with such a greeting. They are made for each other. We have had dogs for 30 years and never had aggressive behaviour before. Dog was exercised and we did all the right things but I really feel that the dog just didn’t fit with us and vice versa. Even though I feel very sad I know deep down that she has gone to the home she needs. Please don’t feel bad if you realise you can’t fit with your dog. It may be the kindest thing you can do to find your dog,s soulmate!!!

    • It sounds so like our Milly (Mad Milly). She was a spooky dog that seemed to be afraid to let anyone touch her. But being half beagle, just lived other dogs! She was my sister’s dog, and I did what I could to ‘train’ aka ‘problem solve) Milly when I occasionally minded her. However after a ‘stay that went on too long (sister couldn’t get back to pick her up) I decided to actually train her for RallyO and “play” agility. It did seem to be three steps forward and three steps back — but maybe only 2.9 steps back? Because she did make some progress.
      So when my sister and b-i-l did come back for her, she made it perfectly clear that she would NOT go back with them. She was/is happy here with three other dogs to hang out with :-) Milly is proving a steep learning curve for me, but a delight! In dog club with me and much better in general with people :-)
      And THAT being said, I have sadly needed/found it necessary to rehome some dogs that simply did NOT fit in here — and one dear dog who really would have been happier to be an ‘only dog’ — but I could not find anyone who was prepared to take her. :-(

  16. This post is such a beautiful and important gift. Thank you so much for writing it. Truly. You have one amazing heart. And Layla is very lucky. :)

  17. Reblogged this on Starring Ceiba & the Schnauzer Squad and commented:
    This is a beautiful and important post. Amen to every word of it.

  18. I am currently batting the decision to rehome a chihuahua that I took in to foster or try to give her her forever home with us. However, she came with behavioral issues that I have been very unsuccessful at reversing. I have never had to do this before. I am such an animal lover we have multiple pets. I tried to do a good thing and am trying to not beat myself up because it isn’t working out. It’s been 4 months and I think it’s the right decision :-/ this article has helped me feel a little better.

  19. I just want to thank you for this post. My family just made the difficult decision to rehome our 1-year-old black lab/hound mix. It was such a difficult decision and I cried all morning. We just dropped him with his new family yesterday. I knew it was the right thing and your post confirmed that we made the right decision. Our work and school schedules didn’t allow us to be a good match for him when all he wanted to do was run and play outside ALL day. He is now in a home with owners who work from home and a 10-month-old fur sister to play with all day. I will miss him dearly, but I know that he will be happier there and as a result, in the end I will be happier knowing that he’s happier.

  20. Thank you for writing this. A very truthful reality that some of go through. You nailed it on every issue and made me feel better about rehoming one of our dogs recently. I know he’ll be happier and I’m the wiser for it. So many variables in having a dog fit with your lifestyle and family. I was under the impression I was a golden retriever person because I had one I had, had them all. WRONG. Oh man was I wrong. Long story short our second goldie with the very different personality from the first, is now happier with his new family. The sting will go away with time and I’ve learned a life lesson. Keep on with your blogs! They are muchly appreciated!

  21. This comment is late, but I really needed to say how much this post is helping me through the guilt of rehoming my dog. I tried to make it work so many times, but our personalities and lives clashed in the worst sorts of ways. He deserves a better match. Thank you so much for this post. I have shed so many tears over him these past few weeks and felt so much guilt about “failing” him, but your words have given me reassurance.

  22. Pingback: When Issues Outgrow Creativity - Willowseed

  23. What a comforting artical.

  24. Thank you…

    We moved to another country 5 years ago with our dog, who was 4 at the time. Four years ago he was attacked by two mistreated pit bulls who nearly ended his life. He was damaged, we were damaged. He changed from happy go lucky to fearful of noises like chains (that were around the dogs’ necks) to garbage bins (what I used to try and fend the dogs off while he was being attacked). Strangely enough, it’s only around us that he feels the need to act with anxiety at these noises. He’ll cower to the ground, show his hackles, growl, become an entirely different dog.

    We’ve since had two children and cannot run to his side to provide the comfort he desperately needs when he hears noises, and it is truly distressing. He’s well-trained, loyal, a complete beach nut. But we’re moving back next year, to a place that isn’t dog friendly. The flight for him would cost us nearly $10,000, involve 4 long overseas flights, and a minimum 10 days’ quarantine. Knowing his history of not tolerating noises, and his growing age and inability to sit for long periods of time… it is absolutely the best choice for us to re-home him, he can stay in this beautiful place with a person who will spoil him rotten and give him the undivided attention he deserves, without having to subject him to hours of long flights with noises and unfamiliar environments, and 10 or more days in quarantine where he doesn’t know what’s going on. Quarantine requirements have changed heavily, as has our lifestyle, since we brought him here with us 5 years ago.

    It took me a long while to grapple with feelings of guilt, how to explain to our family why we “left him behind”, coming to terms with the fact that complete strangers will judge our choices. But it’s not black and white, and I rely on others to realize that same thing. It would be selfish to bring him with us, as we are unable to provide him the environment and stability he needs in his growing years. I think a lot of people think owners dump their dogs and move on – he will be with us forever, I’ll struggle with this everyday, not seeing our son’s face light up when our dog licks his feet or be able to let him spend his remaining years with us.

    I struggle so much to not make the selfish decision of bringing him with us when I know deep down it’s not the right thing to do.

    Before you judge someone who needs to re-home their dog, realize in most situations it’s not what they want to do, but what they have to do. Realize also that life situations change, and perhaps instead of passing judgement help the owner grieve.

  25. Thank you! I adopted a dog 4 months ago and while I have fallen in love with her, I have also realized we are not a match. Long story short, I am single and work and she has separation anxiety when I go to work for the day, she does not get along with any of the dogs in my apartment building and even has attacked a few (LOVES humans and dogs who don’t live here), and our energy levels are opposite (hers is high and mine is lower).

    Point being, even though I love her so much it HURTS I have come to the realization that she is NOT living her best life here and I have to take her back to the rescue where I adopted her from, tomorrow. I have felt intense guilt about it, and want to do all I can to make sure she finds her forever hone. I ha e cried so much every day for the past week feeling so sad about it. But this helped me remember that this is the best decision for her. Thank you!

  26. This is amazing. We rescued a dog from a bad situation that was kill shelter bound. We took her, fed her, medicated her and found that after all that was done we just weren’t the super active owners she wanted. She would get sad when we wanted to sit after an hour walk and game of fetch in the back yard because she wanted to play. She was upset when we left for work. When we started looking into rehoming her we got a lot of backlash. All I wanted was for her to find someone who loved her and was really active with a fenced in backyard so she could play because we don’t have one. All kinds of people saying well you shouldn’t of took the dog… As if leaving her in a 90% crate life in a basement was better. Today we interviewed somebody and the dog just connected with her. We’re probably going to go with her as her future owner. And I know that it will be hard for us and I know it will be hard on the dog who is really bonded with my husband, but I think in the long run she is still barely older than a puppy it has a long life ahead of her and will be so much happier with this other person. It’s really refreshing to see one article where someone is being understanding of this.

  27. I know this is an old article, but thank you for writing it. I won’t go into detail here, but we adopted a puppy that we cannot give enough energy to. He would play and bite all day if we let him. He needs a home with another dog to get that puppy play out of his little crazy body, and we are not doing a good job with that. We are sending him back to the rescue to re-home. They already have 10+ applicants looking to take him.

    The guilt and shame and sadness that I feel is overwhelming, but honestly less overwhelming than trying to find a way to keep up with him and failing and feeling like an awful dog owner, and sobbing every single day. I really appreciate the compassion that you show here. Fear of the judgement of our friends and family almost made me “suck it up” and keep the poor pup, but that wouldn’t have been fair to him. He deserves an energetic and loving home, not one full of stress, frustration and anxiety because we are not a good fit.

    • Wow! I made my come t below and then read your comment and you and I have almost the exact same story!!! I know what you are feeling. We adopted a 2 month old puppy from a shelter and it was a struggle for two months until we just rehomed him. And the guilt is getting worse and worse each day (only been 4 days so far). This article was so helpful and honestly, your comment even more helpful!

  28. Thank you for this article! “Mismatch” is a perfect description of the relationship my family has had with a puppy we adopted two months ago. After two months of struggling, we decided together that re-homing him was the right thing to do and did it responsibly through a site. He is VERY happy at his new home and gained an older canine brother who is helping to teach him some manners he missed out on. Their family loves him! But the guilt I am feeling is overwhelming! Nice to read your story and help me realize that I did make the right decision.

  29. we bought a female Labrador ,around 35 days old. As she started growing our love for her grew. though she was a mix breed of street dog not for a single moment did we not love her. today she is 6 month old and no matter how hard we try, she loves us ,but at some point is insecure with us. Incase she holds anything, she starts attacking everyone. She loves us but doesn’t trust us . Its been over 6 months and her attacking nature keeps increasing. We have never hit her or tortured her. My grand father is mentally unstable and yesterday he almost got bit by her. I have been crying day and night and I don’t want to give her away but due to adjustment problems we have to give her. It breaks my heart. I am very disturbed as no family wants her because she is a mix breed. A generous dog breeder has agreed on taking her but I still don’t feel good . I wish I was capable enough to do something for her because she is extremely loving except for sometimes of the day when she starts feeling sleepy and gets overly insecure.

    • We had a beagle from a another family that couldn’t look after him he was skin and bones, crated all day &12 weeks old.we gad to get him out of there!
      The biting started on the first day (previous owner made no mention of this) I thought it was a setting in issue!
      16 weeks he’s put on weight well looked after but still biting/aggression still there-we’ve had behavioural/trainers in still the same.he’s punctured/bloodied my arm, bit my neck shoulder etc but he’s my pet that ok right!!
      But then he’s bit the grandad & uncle etc who now won’t come to the house!
      My daughter won’t come downstairs anymore as she frightened of him she’s 11 & what if he goes for her!
      I’m told beagles are not aggressive etc so I feel stupid,every evening is the same he just seems so angry.I’ve just decided to let him go to a beagle foundation who will assess him!having a dog isn’t suppose to be like this traumatic etc & maybe he’s telling us he’s not happy too! My daughters doesn’t feel safe so as a parent & dog owner this the best thing to do-but boy does this hurt!
      I think he needs a friend (dog) maybe a bigger garden-I guess sometimes it just doesn’t work out

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