How do you know if you should give your dog away? Surrendering or rehoming a dog is painful, but it might be the best decision you could make for your family – and your dog. We had to give our dog away; it was the right thing for us to do, but it was a terrible decision to have to make.
The following tips will help you decide if you should give your dog away. It’s important to remember that sometimes the most difficult decisions are also the “most right” ones. Sometimes there are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept. We learn lessons we didn’t want to learn…and we meet dogs we love but just can’t live with.
I wrote How to Cope With Rehoming Your Dog after we adopted another dog (Tiffy). Her owner was really struggling with the fact that she was giving her dog away. I wanted her to know that her little dog adjusted so quickly and easily to living with us! Dogs are survivors. They adapt quickly to new homes and owners – though I believe they never forget their previous owners. If you feel guilty and bad about giving your dog away, know that someone else will be glad you had to make this decision!
How do you know if giving your dog away is the right thing to do? This is a decision you and your family have to talk about – and even wrestle with. Everybody’s best interests have to be considered. There are no easy answers or quick tips. Deciding if you should give your dog up is a personal decision, and it’s important that you make it as a family. If you let someone else tell you what to do, you may always regret giving your dog away. You may also blame or resent the person for telling you what to do with your dog. That’s why this is a decision you have to make with your family.
I hope my thoughts and experience help you make this decision. Please consider sharing your story in the comments section below. If you read through other readers’ comments, you’ll find comfort and support. You’ll see you’re not alone. Writing about your own experience might help you decide if you should give your dog away, and help you work through the grief and guilt. You’ll also show other dog owners that they’re not alone.
Should You Give Your Dog Away?
These things to consider and discuss with your family are based on our experience with our big black Shepherd/lab cross. We didn’t change our minds about adopting a dog (which is why we now have two rescue dogs!). But, we couldn’t handle this the first dog we adopted, which is why we had to give her back to the shelter.
Separate your emotions from your reasons for giving your dog away
We adopted Jazz, a 75-pound one-year old black lab German Shepherd “puppy” from the SPCA just over a month ago. We fell in love with her almost immediately, which is why we couldn’t stop crying when we surrendered her back to the SPCA yesterday.
However, as heartbroken and guilty as we feel, we couldn’t ignore the practical reasons that compelled us to give our dog away. We are not the best family for this dog. If you’re trying to decide if you should give your dog away, try to separate your love from what’s best for everyone…including your dog.
Make a list of pros and cons for keeping versus giving your dog away
When you make your list of reasons for keeping or not keeping your dog, assign each reason a number. For instance, one of the reasons we gave our dog away (a “con”) is that she is the size of a small pony and has the energy of seven dogs combined. Our house and yard isn’t big enough for her – and neither are our energy levels! So, this con rates a 10 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being “very important reason” and 1 being “hardly important at all”). When you finish making your list, add up the numbers. If the cons for keeping her outweigh the pros, then maybe you should give your dog away.
Read How to Forgive Yourself for Not Protecting Your Dog if you feel like you’re betraying your dog.
Listen to your heart and head – not other people’s opinions
My husband and I were your typical confused dog owners! We didn’t know if we should keep trying to train and bond with our dog, or if we should just give her away after one month. Everyone we talked to had a different opinion: some said to give the dog away because it’s not worth the time and hassle to train her, while others said it just takes time (up to two years!) for her to mature and learn how to be obedient and part of our “pack.” Ultimately, though, we had to make our own decision, regardless of what other dog owners or obedience trainers said.
Do what’s best for you and your family
I’m a full-time writer and blogger; you’d think I’d be the perfect owner for a big energetic dog who needs lots of time and attention! But, she was so restless and needy, I couldn’t focus on work properly. Having this young black lab around all day was emotionally draining; I was constantly worried that she might need to pee, that she was bored, that she was lonely without dog friends.
Additionally, it was physically exhausting and time consuming to take her on four walks a day, which the dog obedience trainer recommended. As painful as it was to give our dog away, it really was the best decision for us.
Find ways to cope with guilt after finding a new home for your dog
Both my husband and I felt terrible that we took our dog back to the shelter…but it helps to know that we really did do the best we could. She is better off in a different home with a family who can give her what she needs. We’re struggled with guilty feelings of rehoming a dog for a long time…and the truth is I still do feel bad about giving that dog away. But even though I feel bad about it, I still know it was the right thing to do.
We adopted a different dog, Georgie, six months after giving Jazz away, and can’t imagine life without her! We always wanted a dog, but didn’t find the right one…until now. I describe how it all happened in Are You Ready to Get Another Dog?
Not reading books like Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days is one of my biggest regrets. I wish I knew more about big dogs like Jazz, and I wish I’d learned how to train her properly.
If you haven’t tried training your dog, consider reading books like this or hiring a dog obedience trainer to help you. This way, you’ll make sure you don’t regret giving your dog away. The more you understand and know your dog, the better equipped you’ll be to make the difficult decision.
Should you give your dog away? I welcome your thoughts below. It may help you to share what you’re going through. I know it’s not an easy decision to make, and I wish you all the best as you decide what to do.
You might also consider writing your dog a letter below. It may sound silly, but you might find that explaining why you have to give your dog away might help you work through the grief, guilt and pain.