What to Do When You Can’t Take Care of Your Dog

Are you finding it impossible to take care of your dog? These options for pet owners range from doggy daycare to dog fostering through rescue organizations; I wrote this for a reader who can’t care for her dog.

“I have a two year old jack russell terrier called Mailo,” says A. on Should You Give Your Dog Away? “He is the best dog ever, friendly, well trained, full of energy! I am going to start higher education this year and I don’t know if I should take him with me or give him away. He was with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the last two years, working with me in a riding school. I would love to take him with me, but I don’t know if I will have enough time for him at University. I don’t want to give him away but I don’t want to make him unhappy by leaving him home alone all day. I could send him to kennel every day, but is that a good option for a dog? He loves people and other dogs. If I give him away, will he survive? He won’t understand why I left him. What should I do?”

My first thought is: can he stay at the riding school? Would a coworker or one of the riders adopt him? Below are a few more ideas for owners who can’t take care of their dogs anymore…

What a difficult dilemma! When I moved to Africa for three years, I gave my cat away. That was 10 years ago, and I STILL feel guilty and sad. I miss her so much, but I had to live my life. I couldn’t live for her, and I couldn’t take her with me.

When You Can’t Take Care of Your Dog

I’m not saying you should give your dog away – I could never tell you what to do! We had to give our dog Jazz away (which I described in Should You Give Your Dog Away?), and it devastated us.

But, we did the right thing. Jazz was too much for us. Two months ago, we adopted a new dog (Georgie Girl), and she is the absolute right dog for us! I describe what it was like to adopt her in Are You Ready to Get Another Dog?

So, I know that sometimes you have to give your dog away in order to give both her and you the best life possible.

Remember that many dogs adapt to new families and bond fast

One thing I have learned about dogs: they adapt to their new families with gusto. They are survivors.

take care of dogGeorgie bonded to us within a week, which made me feel much better about giving Jazz up. Georgie lived with another family for a year, and seems to have totally forgotten about them. She follows me around, happily plays with other dogs, and is friendly and gentle with adults and kids. I think Jazz is doing the same thing in her new home, with her new family.

Animals remember their human creatures – and they may even feel pain and sorrow at leaving them – but they often bond with new humans quickly. Of course, it depends on the dog’s personality and other factors…but generally speaking, dogs are adaptable.

If you have to give up your dog, you may find How to Cope With Guilty Feelings After Your Dog Dies helpful.

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Consider doggy daycare

This option for pet owners may be out of a university student’s financial reach, but I’m suggesting it anyway: have you considered taking your dog to doggy daycare? I found a great spot in North Vancouver, BC, called A Spot for Spot. Doggy daycare is a great option for pet owners who can’t take care of their dogs during the day.

The first time I left Georgie at doggy daycare, I thought she’d be scared and sad without me. But she had a great time – she played with the other dogs for 2.5 hours straight! She was happy to see me when I picked her up, but I knew she didn’t miss me at all. Finding the right place for your dog during the day can help you take better care of your dog.

Research dog fostering options through dog rescue organizations

This wouldn’t help me if I couldn’t take care of my dog, but many pet owners have family members – or friends – who would be willing to foster dogs for a few weeks or months at a time. Also, some dog rescue organizations have foster families who can’t afford to own a dog, but who want the companionship and love a dog offers.

It might be worthwhile to call the dog rescues and asking them what they suggest when pet owners who can’t take care of their dogs anymore.

For help, read Help Surviving the Loss of Your Pet.

What do you think? If you have any options for dog owners who can’t take care of their dogs anymore, please comment below…


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7 thoughts on “What to Do When You Can’t Take Care of Your Dog

  • regina henley

    looking to rehome two pit/boxer 10 month old pups. cannot keep tehm as my husband has copd and it is making his breathing worse,

  • Graham

    I have a 9 month old Pitt cross Labrador he a loving dog loves kids and well behaved I work nights and not got the time to give him what he needs he is a fawn colour with white patch on his chest he needs a good home where he can get the attention he needs I’m Graham my number is 07904657935

  • Laurie

    Thank you for being here, and taking time to comment. I’m sorry you can’t take care of your dog anymore…the best thing is to try to get help from a nearby humane society or ASPCA. A veterinarian would also be a good place to call, because they might have ideas on what to do when it’s not possible to take care of a dog.

    I really am sorry I can’t be more helpful. I hope you find a good home for your dog, and that you feel good about the choice you have to make.

  • divya

    Hi, am divya my dog name is dolly he is 6yrs old… acutually nowdays no one is there at home to take care of dolly so we thought to give it someone …so please letme know if u guys are interested in taking dolly…

  • Nellie Lou Hilliard

    my little doggie needs a new home, Because of traveling so much she is by herself more than with us. Her name is Tater, she’s a chiapoo, neutered, shots up to date, vet is Midway Vetinary in Midway, ky. she is fully trained by word of mouth, she is trained for outdoor poo, good with children, good natured, has her own kennel, 3 years old, black with white on forehead

  • Ann Obrzut

    hi my dog of 16 years has been falling down but he used to just fall down and get right back up. his appetite is super. but now, he cant get up anymore. im afraid the time has come. but i dont want to let him go. he doesnt cry. just barks when he cant get up. i love him so much and want to do whats best for him. any advice?