How to Get Rid of an Unwanted Pet Dog

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Information for dog owners who need to get rid of their pet dog. Tips on helping a dog to find a good new home.

There are many reasons dog owners cannot keep their pet. If you are in a position where you cannot keep your pet dog there are many factors to consider and many options, some might even be legal requirements.

Original Owner/Breeder

Contact whomever you got the dog from. If it is a purebred animal from a reputable breeder they will want it back. In fact most reputable breeders have contracts stating that any unwanted dog be returned to them. As well if the dog was adopted from a proper animal shelter they probably had you sign a contract stating that the dog would be returned to them if it could not be kept (usually this only applies to the first year after adoption, but not always).

Breed Rescue

If your dog is a registered dog of a specific breed there are many breed rescues that will try to accept it and find it a good new home. The best way to find such breed rescues is by contacting a dog club in your area or contacting your dog registry.

Animal Shelter

There are several types of animal shelters, some better than others.

No-Kill shelters will not euthanize your dog, but often refuse to accept dogs if they are full, or do not think the dog is adoptable, or think the dog is not in dire enough condition to warrant their help.

Regular shelters will accept any dog brought in but offer no guarantees it will go for adoption (see Tips to make your Dog more Likely to Get a Home – below).

Hoarders are people who pretend to run proper shelters but typically keep most of the pets for themselves. They tend to be disorganized and poorly run, eventually the dogs are not looked after, and many suffer.

walking several dogs

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Friend or Family

Giving the pet to a friend or family member is a good option assuming they actually want the pet. It should be put in writing that they are the new owner and responsible for its feed and care. If, on the other hand, the arrangement is not to be permanent, this should also be in writing, with dates specified for the return of the dog to you, as well it should be specified who pays for what, and what happens if either party fails to fulfill their end of the deal.

Give Away or Sell

You can give away or sell your dog. People often list their pets on sites such as “craigslist”, or put up signs offering their pet for free or for sale. One of the problems with this is that few people screen those who contact them about taking the pet. They are just so happy to be rid of the pet they do not check to see that it is not going to a questionable home. Some important things to check are: Do they own their home? (If they rent you should be sure their landlord allows dogs or the dog will soon be on the street.) Do they have a fenced yard? (Tied up dogs often become aggressive) Do they have time, knowledge, and finances? Are they are legitimate owners? (Some people take free pets and resell them to research labs, or use them for cruel purposes such as training illegal fighting dogs to kill)

Tips to Make a Dog More Likely to Get a Home

Dogs that are spayed or neutered are more likely to get a home, particularly when taken to the animal shelter. This saves the shelter worrying about if the dog will get spayed or neutered, or will breed and add to the unwanted pet population – it saves new owners the expense of spaying or neutering.

Fully Vaccinated and up to date. Again this saves the shelter or new owner some expenses. You cannot simply say your dog is up to date, you must provide veterinary papers to prove it.

Young – Dogs under 1 year of age are the most likely to get a new home, unless they have some other added value.

Training – Dogs that are house trained and obedience trained are more likely to get a new home.

In Demand – Dogs that are unique, odd breeds, or less common, are often in greater demand and more likely to get a home. This also applies to dogs that are of a non-shedding variety, or are small (for city homes).

two dogs

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DO Not:

  • Turn your dog loose, either in town, or in the country. In most places this is illegal and considered animal abandonment, as well it is obviously cruel. If the dog is lucky enough to be picked up as a stray it is less likely to ever go up for adoption than if it was brought in by its owner.
  • Assume a farmer wants another dog. Very often farmers just shoot stray dogs that show up.
  • Rush! When you are in a hurry you are apt to give the dog away to somebody who is not a good owner, but simply the first person willing to take the dog.
  • Lie. Being dishonest about the dog is not a way to find it a “good” home, the new owner will be unhappy that they didn't get what they thought they were getting. If your dog has health or behavioral issues, be honest.

Related Links

Tips for Surrendering a Dog to a Shelter

Keeping a Dog on a Chain is Cruel for Many Reasons

Help for Dog Owners who Think their Dog was Abused

How to Start a Dog Rescue Business


Jason Mcinly
Posted on Sep 8, 2012
Nobert Bermosa
Posted on Aug 26, 2010
Susan Kaul
Posted on Aug 26, 2010
Heather Tooley
Posted on Aug 25, 2010