I recently had to rehome my dog Rory and it was so hard. I was absolutely besotted with him and extremely reluctant to let him go. However, my circumstances had changed and it became clear that I was not going to be able keep him. If you ever find yourself in this situation and struggling with it, here are 5 tips for working through the process of rehoming your dog.
1. Accept that rehoming is the right thing to do
You are not being selfish, you are being ‘SELF-LESS’.
Just thinking about rehoming Rory made me feel like I had let him down. After all, ‘dogs are for life’ right? As a vegan I held on to this notion that you just don’t give up on animals once you’ve made a commitment to provide them with a ‘forever home’. In my mind not only was I failing Rory but I was a bad vegan and ditching the dog was a selfish thing to do.
In reality I could see that poor Rory was constantly being set up to fail when all he wanted to do was please. He was confused by our commands and despite more than a year of work and multiple training programs it became clear that if I wanted him to have a good life, I had to find him a more suitable home.
Try to separate your emotions from what is really going on for your dog. This should help to keep your focus on doing what is best for him.
2. Understand that people want to help
If you’re a good person, chances are pretty high that the people you know are good people too. So reach out. Ask for help. Let them know what you’re trying to do and let them help you.
Contact all the ‘doggie-friendly’ people you know and tell them you are rehoming your dog. Ask if they know of anyone that might be interested in giving your dog a loving home. Most people are really supportive and those who are more doggie-friendly than others will often go above and beyond to help. Not only will they tap their network of contacts, they will provide support and encouragement when you really need it, and will help keep your focus in the right place.
3. ‘For sale’ rather than ‘free to a good home’
If a person is willing to pay for your dog, they will most likely be prepared to look after him.
If you are going to advertise for a new owner for your dog, I strongly advise against giving him away. While I know you just want him to go to a good home and will do anything to make that happen, a realistic price is more likely to filter out any unsavoury types .
Anyone who is serious about taking on your dog will understand why the price is necessary. Sure you can negotiate the price if you want to but save that conversation for later when you are comfortable that the person you’re talking to is a good prospect.
4. Prepare a list of questions
A list of questions shows that you are serious about finding a good home for your dog. It weeds out people who are not up to the job, and when it comes to choosing the new owner it reassures you that you’ve found a good person.
When I received enquiries about Rory I would respond by email and include my list of questions. Many people didn’t bother to get back to me which just told me that they weren’t serious and therefore not suitable.
Those who are happy to respond understand that you are only trying to ensure they are prepared for what they are taking on, and that they are a good match for your dog.
Here are the questions I asked:
- Do you own your own home or do you rent? (Some landlords don’t allow dogs so if you have to move that could be an issue.)
- Who is in the house and is someone likely to be home during the day?
- Do you have any other pets who would be in the house with Rory (note that he is definitely not good with cats)?
- Would Rory have access to an outside area and is it well fenced?
- Do you have any experience with dogs? Are you prepared to commit to ongoing training?
- If you find that after a few months he is unsuitable, what would you do with him?
- Are you happy to sign a copy of the Council Dog Registration document stating that you have taken ownership of him?
- Can you confirm that he will be an ‘inside’ dog (i.e. sleeps inside not outside or in a kennel)?
5. Be open about any issues your dog might have
Be honest and give the potential new owner a chance to opt out before handing over your dog.
You want to be absolutely sure that you’ve done everything you can to set your dog up for success with his new owner. Once you think you’ve found the right person make sure they are well aware of what they are taking on. Be specific about any training challenges or behavioural issues and ask them if they are still happy to take your dog.
The handover is tough. Know that you’ve done all you can to find the best possible home for your dog.
Make sure you have everything ready (leads, collars, dog food, bowls etc) so that the process is as straightforward and easy as possible for your dog (and you).
If your handover is anything like mine, the dog is excited and unconcerned about leaving while you’re a blubbering mess, waving goodbye.
When Rory arrived at his new home his owner sent me a message – Rory had sniffed out the place, eaten everything he’d been offered, and was lying in his bed, snoring his head off. All was good.
When I think about his new home I’m happy that he’s got a big brother (another spaniel), an experienced owner who is knows how to train older dogs, and the home he deserves.
If you have any experience rehoming your dog and would like to share your tips, please leave a comment below.