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How to Rehome a Dog: 16 Vet-Approved Steps

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on June 14, 2024 by Dogster Team

woman holding a puppy outdoor

How to Rehome a Dog: 16 Vet-Approved Steps


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

BVM BVS MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dog parents love their pets; there’s no two ways about it. But sometimes, life happens, and you need to rehome your dog for unforeseen and unavoidable reasons. Rehoming a pet is one of the most heartbreaking experiences ever, as most of the time, those who are rehoming adore their dogs and don’t want to give them up. In some cases, though, rehoming is the only option. Perhaps someone in the house has developed an allergy, or you got a new job and need to relocate but can’t find a dog-friendly living space.

If you have to rehome your beloved pup, you might have questions about the best way to do so, especially since the process seems incredibly stressful. Let us take some of that stress away by giving you the steps that you need to be sure your pup is going to a good home.

The 16 Steps to Rehome a Dog

If rehoming your dog is an unfortunate necessity, follow these steps to make the process as painless as possible.

1. Keep Your Dog at Home

If possible, keep your dog while you’re searching for a new home for them. Your house is the safest and least stressful place for your pup while you’re finding them a new family.

dog lying on bed
Image Credit: N K, Shutterstock

2. Make Sure They Are Medically Up to Date

Make sure your four-legged friend is ready to be adopted. Check that your dog is up to date on all their vaccinations, and if they aren’t spayed or neutered yet, consider having that done. Also, keep your pup well-groomed while searching for their new home, as this can increase their chances of getting rehomed.

3. Review All Documents

Take a look at your adoption contract if you have one. Sometimes, shelters will make new owners sign a contract that says they must bring the dog back to the shelter if they are unable to keep them. This is done to help prevent people from adopting dogs from shelters and then selling them for a profit. If you signed one of these but don’t want to return your pup to the shelter, reach out to a lawyer before looking for a new home for your dog.1

4. Check With Your Personal Connections

Ask friends and family if they know anyone looking to adopt a dog. Going through personal connections means that if you find a home for your dog, someone you know also knows this person, so you get a reference you trust.

dog looking at its owner doing something on the phone
Image Credit: seeshooteatrepeat, Shutterstock

5. Talk to Your Vet

Your veterinarian knows your dog best (after you, of course), and they could be aware of whether any other clients are looking to make an addition to their home. Plus, many vet offices allow you to post flyers seeking people looking to adopt.

6. Check Out a Rescue Organization Specific to Your Pup’s Breed

If you can’t find a breed-specific rescue organization, you can try a general one. Rescue groups often put pups with foster families until they can be adopted again. Even if they aren’t able to take your pet, they may still be able to put up a listing on their website to help get the word out.

7. Avoid Running a Classified Ad on Sites Like Craigslist

Putting up a classified ad for your dog may seem like a simple way to find them a new home, but advertising on sites like Craigslist could end up putting your dog in significant danger. Many animals have been adopted in this way only to find themselves being poorly cared for or worse, in a dog fighting situation.

woman working on her laptop with dog on her lap
Image Credit: DiMedia, Shutterstock

8. Look Into Professional Pet Matching

Did you know professional pet matching services were available? These are communities of people who love canines and are dedicated to ensuring all dogs have good homes. Sites like Rehome will allow you to put up a profile for your pup, let you review applications for potential new owners, and more.

9. Do a Photoshoot

Of course, if you’re using a service like Rehome and making a profile for your dog, you’ll need to post an excellent picture of them. Take a picture that gets them at their best angle and looking their cutest.

10. Write a Bio of the Dog

You’ll also need a brief bio to accompany the adorable picture you’ve taken. List some of your pup’s favorite activities, any training they’ve had, medical conditions, favorite foods, and more.

woman writing on notebook with her dog on bed
Image Credit: My July, Shutterstock

11. Be Honest

You want your dog to find a great home, so it may be tempting to fudge the truth a bit and say that your dog loves small children when in reality, they merely tolerate them. But this will only lead to trouble down the road, so always be honest about things regarding your pet.

12. Research Your Pup’s Potential Adopter

If you have someone who wants to adopt your dog, do what research you can on them before agreeing to it. Check out their home, if possible, to make sure it’s safe enough for your pet and to see what kind of environment the new potential owner will keep your dog in. Ask them questions like how long the dog will be on their own each day and who takes care of pets when they’re on vacation. Find out all the information you can to make an informed decision.

If you feel uncomfortable with anything you see or learn, keep looking for potential adopters. An honest potential owner will ask you as many questions as you ask them because they will want to know the ins and outs of your dog to ensure they are making a good choice.  If a prospective owner doesn’t seem interested in learning about your dog, find someone else, as this could be a red flag.

13. Do a Rehome Test-Run

When you find the adopters you think are right, do a dry run before moving your dog to their home. Let them keep your pup for a weekend or two so the adopters can find out how they mesh with your dog while actually living together.

couple patting a dog at home
Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

14. Prepare Your Dog for Moving

Moving your pet will be stressful. It will be a rough day for you and your pup, and you’ll need to remember a lot. You’ll have to pack up your dog’s toys, favorite blankets, bed, crate, and any medication they’re currently taking. Make a list and be sure you have everything you need before taking your dog to their new home.

15. Make It Official

Once your pet has a new home, you’ll need to transfer ownership of them to their new family. This could involve switching over your dog’s registration or dog license, giving the new family your pet’s microchip information, and letting your vet know your dog has a new owner (if the new family uses the same vet) or having your vet transfer your pup’s records to a new vet.

16. Consider a Rehoming Fee

It can feel kind of sleazy to ask for money when rehoming your dog, particularly if all you care about is whether they have a good home to go to. However, some experts do recommend charging this fee because animals that are free are more disposable. Free animals can attract companies that want to test their products on them, people looking to supply dog fighting rings or even puppy mills. By requiring a fee, you know your dog’s new family is willing to invest in your pup.

woman counting dollars at the table
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

Rehoming a dog is a heartbreaking experience, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. If you have to rehome your pup, you can use these steps to make the process go more smoothly. By checking with people you know first or using a professional pet matching service, you can be better assured that your dog is going to an amazing new home where they’ll be well-loved.

Featured Image Credit: Inna Astakhova, Shutterstock

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