5 things to consider before you rehome a dog

If you’re looking to adopt a pet, dog rehoming can be a wonderful and life-changing experience. But it’s important you do your research first. Here are our top 5 considerations as you embark on this remarkable journey.

We all know that dogs make for excellent companions and with so many dogs out there searching for their forever home, why not explore rehoming? If you're thinking about rehoming a dog, here are some questions to ask first.

1. What are the practicalities of owning a dog and is my lifestyle suitable for a dog?

If you’re at work all day, or like to go out for big day trips and weekends abroad, your lifestyle may not suit you having your own dog. Dogs crave company and routine, and leaving a pack animal on their own for long periods wouldn’t be fair.

If you’re set on having a dog despite these circumstances, consider doggy day care, bringing your dog to work or asking trusted neighbours or family members if someone would like to dog-sit. There are also websites where you can meet local dog-sitters who want to spend time with dogs for free. You may also consider small dogs for rehoming, as it may make travelling and day care easier.

Some breeds may be more suitable for your lifestyle than others. Find out which canine companion would best suit you with our breed selector tool.

2. How do I go about rehoming a dog?

Remember that charities have the experience of thousands of successful adoptions, and will have advice on which specific pet may be best suited to your lifestyle, and whether you are suited to owning a dog at this time.

If they don’t think you’re ready for dog ownership, you may even be rejected by the pet rehoming or animal shelter organisation you contacted.

Trust the experts and don’t be disheartened if they don’t think you’re a good fit at this time. Try to stay positive and if you’re new to pet care, try to get some experience with animals. Consider volunteering at a rescue centre to gain insight first, since this would allow you to view the wide variety of breeds and their inherent needs and behaviours.

It’s also possible to rehome a dog from abroad but it’s definitely worth considering that this could be costlier and more time-consuming than adopting locally, and you likely won’t be able to meet your new pet before they arrive. Many dogs that come from outside of the UK can be very anxious or nervous, so consider your previous experience before considering such an undertaking.

3. What training will the dog require?

If you visit a rescue shelter, you will quickly realise each dog has their own unique story and needs. The shelter will be able to provide training and behaviour considerations for each dog that’s ready to go to their forever home. This will help you know what to expect when considering a specific dog.

While it can be a common misconception that all rescue dogs are aggressive, that’s simply not the case. What does ring true is that all dogs, regardless of their background, will need your time and devotion to help them settle into their new home with you.

4. How does a dog feel when rehomed?

Dogs are naturally inclined to be man’s best friend, so their attachment is very strong. Research has even shown that dogs dream about their owners. Being abandoned is hugely traumatic, but dogs learn to love and trust again surprisingly quickly.

Dogs are naturally curious about new things, so with a little time in their new home, you can expect them to take an interest in you. One way to lower a dog’s stress levels is to provide items that are familiar, like blankets and bedding, toys or water dishes they’re used to.

5. What do you need to know before rehoming a dog with behavioural issues?

A good rehoming centre will have carried out a behavioural assessment of any dogs in their care. If a dog you are considering does have behavioural issues, such as anxiety or aggressive tendencies, the shelter will be able to guide you on what support you should be able to offer them. If you’re a novice owner, or someone who is out a lot, a dog with significant behavioural issues is probably best avoided.

If you do decide to choose a dog with anxious tendencies, remember that anxiety in dogs can come from different sources, and you need to work with a behaviourist or dog trainer to identify triggers. A major trigger for anxious dogs can often be when they are separated from their owner.

An anxious dog may try to follow you as you leave, scratch at doors, chew on door frames, claw carpets or jump up at windows to try and find a way out. This could be combined with barking, whining and howling to try and persuade you to return.

Similarly, aggression can come from different sources, and you will also need to work with a behaviourist or dog trainer to identify triggers. It may be that a dog was trained to be aggressive, it could also be food-guarding aggression or stem from a fear of people. It’s best not to let the dog off the lead outside until you are absolutely certain that it is safe to do so.

If you’ve decided you’re ready to take the next steps, visit our rehoming hub to search for a local shelter and find more useful tips.

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