Should I Return My Dog - Few Things to Consider Before Making the Decision

Having to return your adopted or rescued dog is never an easy decision, although sometimes it is simply necessary. According to ASPCA, among the many reasons for rehoming a pet, aggressive or unwanted behavior and health issues are the most prominent ones. Before you go about returning dog to shelter, here are a few things to consider.

Do not make a rash decision, because it's possible that the situation can be fixed. Take a hard look at the reasons for why you want to be returning dog to shelter and see if there's something to avoid this. Here are some of the most common reasons for returning dog to shelter and why pet owners change their mind.

Unwanted Behavior

White bad fluffy schnauzer dog playing in a roll of toilet paperEven if you spent a lot of time getting to know your dog before you adopted or rescued him, behavior changes can sometimes occur and surprise you as a new pet owner. In fact, according to veterinarians at Hillspet, the difference in return rates of rescued dogs is basically nonexistent between the owners who did a lot of research on a animal before adoption and those who didn’t do any research at all.

Disobedience, destructive or aggressive behavior are all valid reasons you might consider returning dog to shelter. However, there's something you can do to try and correct your dog’s behavior before you make the final decision to return him.

What You Can Do:

The first place to start is with crate training your dog to prevent destructive behavior when you are away from home as well as many other issues. You can significantly reduce soiling around the house or dog chewing your belongings if you crate train your pooch. Here are other most common problems pet owners are frustrated about:

  • Potty problems. If your dog is not potty trained, you can train him within 2-4 weeks. Even if he is an adult or senior dog, he can still learn how to eliminate himself appropriately.
  • Misbehaving. Teach your dog some basic commands. Commands like “Stay”, “Come” or “Sit” are a good place to start and are some of the easiest to teach a dog, which will prevent your pup from misbehaving in many situations.
  • Unwanted behavior. There's plenty of online resources on how to quickly correct other types of unwanted behavior in dogs and fix issues like separation anxiety, leash or food aggression and biting. All it takes is to use positive reinforcement – reward your dog with treats and praise to encourage his progress.

If you are not able to correct these problems yourself, consider getting professional help from a dog behaviorist or dog trainer. With proper training and therapy, most dogs will learn how to behave and you may be able to keep your pooch after all without returning dog to shelter. Give yourself anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks.

Health Issues

Sick dog sitting on bed with cannula in vein taking infusionDogs can suffer from a number of health conditions that require a lot of care, time and money, especially as dogs grow older. Some people are just not prepared to deal with these problems properly, which leads them to think about returning dog to shelter.

What You Can Do:

First of all, you should keep in mind that dogs with medical conditions are much harder to adopt from shelters, which means that your pooch could stay there for a long time. With that in mind, you can take some steps to help you with the cost of medical bills.

  • Vet's assistance. Talk to your veterinarian and explain the situation. Many vets are willing to reduce the costs or at least help you form a payment plan to deal with this financial strain knowing that you're thinking about returning dog to shelter.
  • Contact the shelter. There are some shelters and rescue organizations that provide either financial assistance to owners who've adopted from them, or they take care of certain tasks and bills themselves.
  • Other sources. You can talk to a local school or university that has a veterinary program. They often provide low-cost medical services to the general public.

Another option is to contact one of many organizations that help pet owners cover the health-related dog bills and expenses to avoid returning dog to shelter. You can find some of those organizations on this website.

Financial Reasons

Many people are not fully aware of the expenses that come with having a dog. In addition to previously mentioned veterinary bills, there are also costs for dog foods and toys, and other basic needs like bedding, dog crates and other essential dog supplies. Even if you planned the costs right, some unforeseen circumstances, like losing a job or dog's need for a surgery, could put you in a position to consider returning dog to shelter.

What You Can Do:

You can apply for government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP). Although this program doesn't cover costs of pet food, you can find a lot of human foods that your dog can also eat. For example, salmon, cooked boneless chicken, carrots, eggs and broccoli are fine for dogs, to name just a few items. Make sure that the food you want to give to your pooch is non-toxic to dogs and won’t cause him any gastrointestinal problems. This program could also help you find other resources you can use to help you with basic nutritional needs for your dog.

Also, take a look at this list on 80+ ways to save as a pet owner on dog expenses. This list contains a number of tips and DIY hacks you can utilize to reduce the costs of everything related to dog care, toys, beds, and foods to grooming and training.

A Newborn Baby

A friendly family German Shepherd dog is laying on a blanket with a two month old newborn baby, kissing her on the cheek.Having a baby takes a lot of your time and it can sometimes be the reason why owners wish to return a dog to a shelter. Also, if your dog has a behavioral problem that hasn’t been corrected yet, you may feel worried for your baby’s safety. Another common concern is that a dog will be jealous and act unfriendly to your new baby.

What You Can Do:

There's a number of proper techniques for introducing dogs to newborns and vice versa.

As far as your time goes, you can find ways to take care both of your dog and a new baby. For example, you can take your dog on a walk on the leash and bring your baby in a stroller. That's enough to provide your pooch with necessary exercise and attention. Also, dogs and babies nap a lot, and even though their napping times won’t always match, in many cases they will, giving you some time to relax and rest.

Prepare your dog for the new baby's arrival. Work on the dog's training and obedience beforehand, and learn how to recognize signs of aggression or distress in dogs so you can react on time if it appears that a bad situation is brewing. Finally, remember there's a number of benefits for kids to grow up with dogs, specifically since the very early age.

Moving to a New Home

Some landlords don’t allow pets of any kind on their premises. That is often a reason that spurs owners consider returning dog to shelter, but it doesn't have to go that way.

What You Can Do:

The obvious solution to this problem is to look for a house or apartment that allows pets. You can even use filters on many search engines or real estate websites like and others so you can only look at pet-friendly housing.

If you can’t pick a specifically pet-friendly house or apartment, there's a number of ways you can convince a landlord to let your pet stay with you. The most common is to suggest paying a monthly fee to your landlord, or an additional security deposit for the pet. Use some of these tips on adopting or keeping a dog when a landlord is opposed to it.

In Conclusion

Returning Dog to Shelter? Here's What You Can Do InsteadThere's a number of solutions to some of the most common reasons owners consider returning dog to shelter. Of course, there are also problems that can’t be worked around, like a serious illness of an owner. In case that you can’t find a solution that works for you and you absolutely must give up on your dog, you should first try to rehome him yourself before you turn to a shelter.

What you should NOT do is put up an ad on Craigslist since you can’t do a proper background check on the potential adopter. There's a number of scams happening on these sites where pets are often adopted by criminals or bad owners who might use the dog as bait for dog fighting or otherwise have poor intentions. Instead, ask people you trust if they can take your dog or if they know a reliable person looking for a dog. Contact rescue groups or other organizations which can help you find a good home for your pooch.

READ NEXT: 26-Step Checklist for Adopting a New Adult Dog or Puppy


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