Finding a New Home for a Pet

Parent Q&A

  • Advice about rehoming a dog

    (12 replies)

    We adopted a rescue dog about four years ago - a cute mutt who is about 25 pounds. The positives: he is super sweet with our family members and has never been aggressive with any of us. He is well trained, can sit, stay, will go in his crate upon command.  He loves off leash hikes and is great with other dogs. He is well behaved when we have to board him.  The negatives: he is very territorial and aggressive when anyone comes to our house. He will bark and lunge at anyone who comes on the property.  I have to put him in the garage when we have guests over and he will bark the whole time. Having houseguests staying overnight is a nightmare. I’ve spent over $500 working with trainers but the behavior has not improved. He’s small but not that small and it is scary when he goes after people. I live in fear of him biting a delivery person or god forbid a child.

    We have a new baby and I know it is inevitable that we will have to rehome him at some point. I can’t imagine ever having small children over to the house, it would be too risky. It absolutely breaks my heart as I have tried so hard with this dog for years. I know this sounds dramatic, but the dog is the main source of stress in my life, even more than my job, marriage, or the new baby!

    I would love some advice about how to do this. Looking online it seems that most rescue orgs highly discourage owners from trying to rehome their dogs and instead offer training resources. I have spent so much time and money trying to train away this behavior, please believe me. Every time I think about rehoming him I start crying. But I also know that having a highly reactive, fear aggressive animal in a house with children is so dangerous and irresponsible. I would love for there to be someone out there without kids (and who rarely has visitors) who is looking for a loyal dog to go hiking with, but I also know that this is unrealistic. Who would want to adopt a dog with these issues? Any advice here would be so greatly appreciated, thanks in advance! 

    RE: Advice about rehoming a dog ()

    If your child’s safety is at risk, you must get rid of the dog. I would take him to a reputable shelter before he makes a grievous mistake. Perhaps others on BPN will have recommendations. I’m sorry, I know it sounds harsh, but I would never trust a dog with reactivity and fear issues around a newborn baby. The dog needs to go immediately.

    RE: Advice about rehoming a dog ()

    Try contacting the shelter or rescue organization you got your dog from. We had to rehome two cats whose owner had died. The Berkeley shelter did take them back only because they had come from there originally.  I absolutely agree the dog needs to go. You did the best you could, don't beat yourself up.

    RE: Advice about rehoming a dog ()

    Hi there. I am sorry you are in this situation -- it is so heart-breaking! And, I agree that it would be best for all to re-home him. We adopted a dog last year who sounds very similar -- loved us, great with other dogs, loved to go on adventures... but hated other people and was very territorial. Unfortunately, he bit our neighbor's son -- they were understanding as they are dog owners themselves... until it happened a second time. That is when we knew we needed to re-home. Our kids were devastated, though were old enough to know why we couldn't keep him. In any event, we contacted the rescue agency and they took him back. Although we had him only 4 months, I think most rescues would understand that the situation is not tenable. You might start with the Milo Foundation. Many of the dogs they advertise seem to not be suited to homes with kids, plus they have a ranch where many dogs thrive. Another idea is to advertise him on Private owners advertise pets on there and you can tell your back story -- why he's so great and what kind of home he would thrive in. Good luck to you and congratulations on your new baby!

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My parents are moving, need to find a home for aging dog

April 2011

My parents have to move for financial reasons to a smaller place and they won't be able to take the elderly family dog with them. We'd like to take her, but there are some big issues... 1) she is an outside only dog and for us to secure our property it would cost $1-2k in building/repairs and 2) even if we made all the repairs our property just isn't very suited for her, like there would be no shelter from rain, we are sure she'd bark constantly because of the noise of the neighborhood (my parents live in very quiet Orinda, we live in the Oakland flatlands near a busy intersection). She is really a sweet dog (pretty classic Labrador temperament), but given she isn't trained to be indoors any longer and that she is 13 years old, it seems like trying to find a new home for her won't be successful. We just don't know what to do. We can't afford to do what we need to do to our house to make it secure for her, but even then it isn't an ideal situation. If we give her up to a shelter, won't she most likely be put down? Does anyone have any advice on what we might do? Have we missed some possibility? Out of Ideas

There are plenty of cheap dog run fences you can get inexpensively at home depot for the short run. It should not cost that much to make improvements, surely? Yes he will be put down if he is not a cute puppy at the shelter.... dog lover
Contact a Lab rescue - they may have facilities and can take her or will have a family willing and able... At 13 you are right, she is not very adoptable, but she may have a great twilight with a rescue! Maggie
For the family dealing with mom & dad's aging dog, there are some excellent resources available. Muttville is a local nonprofit whose mission is to find homes for senior dogs. They're at

Also the East Bay SPCA does not put down dogs (except in cases of extreme aggression, which of course is not your situation). They have location in Dublin and Oakland; Pet lover

Aging dog issue: If you absolutely want to give up the dog, try Muttville in SF - they do only senior dogs. Not sure if they have room at the moment, but they might have a foster home, or maybe you could board the dog somewhere for a short term while a foster home is found. Boarding would be cheaper than securing your yard it sounds like. We adopted an outside only, 13 year old dog, a St. Bernard Border Collie mix... and she adjusted to indoor living just fine in about 2 months. She has her bed and just wants to be near us. She is now almost 16 and doing well. I hope the best for you and the doggie! AJ
If you don't think your yard will work, I would suggest craigslist, trying to find a foster home for the dog (maybe Milo foundation), or seeing if your parents have friends in Orinda who would want the dog. Keeping a dog in the cold and rain is against local animal cruelty codes, so you would need to get atleast a dog house or something to protect it from the rain/cold/sun.

From what I learned from people who have worked in animal control, I don't think it would make it long at the pound. (If anyone in BPN has different information, please feel free to correct me). It's my understanding that though most of the shelters in the area are ''no kill'', they still put down dogs which are unadoptable or have medical problems (which at 13 it will probably have something) or they can transfer to kill shelters. With all the foreclosures, the shelters are pretty full, which makes it hard for the best dogs to get adopted and even harder for those with known health problems. I hate to say it, but if your only option is to bring it to the ASPCA, then it might be best to put it down yourself in a loving way so that its last days are not traumatic and sad.

I can understand someone not wanting a dog living in their house if they are otherwise happy being free of the shedding and possible dog smell, but if your reason for not having it indoors is a belief it can't be done at this point, then you should atleast try it to see if the dog can adjust. In fact, at 13 years old, it would probably love being in a warm, dry house and less upset about not being able to run around outside as a young outdoor dog would be. If you have a walking routine, I doubt it will be hard to housetrain. Dogs understand instinctually understand that there are appropriate and inappropriate places to go to the bathroom, it would probably just take a couple of weeks to train it to go outside. I thought taking a dog out for walks everyday would be a big burden on my already busy life, but I have grown to really appreciate the time to just walk for 20 minutes which I never did before having a dog.

Good luck, I know its a difficult position anon