Energetic Border Collie.

Rehoming a Dog Australia: When Is It the Right Time?

Written By Olivia De Santos | Canine Coach, Professional Writer & Video Content Creator.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | Double B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 7th January 2024

Today, I want to tackle a topic that might tug at your heartstrings but is important nonetheless: when is it the right time to rehome your dog?

Deciding to part ways with your beloved pet is never easy, but sometimes circumstances arise that make rehoming the best option for both you and your canine friend. In this guide to rehoming a dog in Australia, we’ll explore the common reasons why people rehome their dogs, how to find the right owner for your pooch, and what your options are in different states in Australia.

So, let's dive into this emotional and sensitive subject with empathy and understanding.


How to Know It’s Time to Rehome Your Dog: 4 Signs

Most dogs are true family members, showering us with love and joy in our daily lives. However, life is unpredictable, and situations can arise that make it challenging to continue providing the care and attention our dogs deserve. Sometimes events mean that your dog is no longer a fit for your home and family either – as heartbreaking as that may be.

It's crucial to remember that the decision to rehome a dog should never be taken lightly, as it impacts both you and your furry friend.

With that in mind, I’ve outlined the four main reasons people rehome their pets. These categories are broad and I will provide detailed examples in each section.

But it’s important to recognise that every situation is unique.

If your reasons for rehoming your pooch aren’t listed below, don’t panic. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Seek professional advice from a vet or dog behaviourist before you make moves to relocate your dog.

Related: The Best Dogs For First Time Owners.

1. Lifestyle Changes

Life has a funny way of throwing curveballs. That’s the only certainty about life – change. And those changes can throw your entire family and home dynamic into the air.

Perhaps you've taken on a demanding job that requires long hours away from home, leaving your dog lonely and neglected.

Or maybe you have an unexpected pregnancy and your dog has never been fond of toddlers and children, so you know they wouldn’t enjoy life with a newborn.

In such cases, rehoming might be considered to ensure your dog receives the love and care they deserve in a more suitable environment.

Common life changes that can make you consider rehoming your dog include:

  • Changing family dynamics e.g divorce or a new baby
  • Moving countries or states
  • Sudden family death

2. Financial Constraints

Owning a dog is a financial burden. One that we delight in carrying but a burden all the same.

Costs include dog food, bowls, veterinary care, toys, carriers, and bedding.

Then you have all the added extras! Dog walking, pet sitting, fancy water fountains, and pampered grooming parlours.

But what happens if you find yourself in a financial crisis where you struggle to provide the basics for your dog?

First, it’s important to prioritise your pet's wellbeing. Cut out all of the unnecessary expenses and itemise what your dog care budget looks like at the bare bones.

By “bare bones” I mean food, water, and veterinary care. You can groom and exercise your pooch yourself.

Also, consider trying a cheaper dog food brand just until your finances regulate. Or you can seek out free dog food as a temporary solution.

If after slashing your dog care budget you still can’t afford the basic means, it’s time to consider rehoming.

Rehoming your dog can ensure they receive the necessary care, even if you are temporarily unable to provide it yourself. Remember, this decision is an act of love, not abandonment.

Here are some examples of how finances can drive you to rehome your dog:

  • Inability to cover dog food costs
  • Inability to cover veterinary bills
  • Sudden job loss or another huge financial constraint with little savings
  • Loss of income from one or more household members
  • Court-ordered fines, penalties, or debt collection
  • Risk to housing stability/homelessness

3. Health Concerns

Health concerns can be two-fold. There are health concerns that impact you as the owner and health issues that impact your dog.

Both can make caring for your dog an impossibility due to a lack of resources, energy, or attention.

Caring for a dog with complex health issues can be overwhelming, both emotionally and financially.

If your dog requires specialised care, treatments, or constant supervision that you're unable to provide, it may be necessary to consider rehoming.

Placing your dog in a home where they can receive appropriate medical attention can give them a better quality of life.

If it’s you who is suffering with your health, physical or mental, and that’s impacting your ability to care for your dog, rehoming them would be an act of kindness. Though your pup will miss you dearly, they may have a freer, happier life with someone who is well enough to care for them.

Here are some health examples that may result in your dog needing to be rehomed:

  • Sudden diagnosis impacting your dog
  • Sudden diagnosis impacting you or your household members
  • Age-related ailments such as Alzheimer's or arthritis that make it difficult for you to care for your dog
  • You or a household member becoming allergic to your dog’s fur
  • Long periods of hospital or hospice care for you or your household members

4. Behavioural Challenges

Dogs, just like humans, have unique personalities. Sometimes behavioural issues arise that make it difficult to maintain a safe and harmonious environment for everyone involved.

Some dogs are a nightmare to train in the first place. These are often labelled “stubborn” or “unruly” dogs.

“The excitable, unruly, or disobedient dog would be one that after sufficient attention to training, still does not respond to commands, will not walk nicely on a leash, jumps on people, continually barks for attention, steals things or generally wreaks havoc on the household.” - VCA Animal Hospitals (1)

Despite your best efforts, if you find yourself facing persistent behavioural challenges that affect your dog's wellbeing or the wellbeing of those around them, professional intervention or rehoming might be the kindest choice.

Related: Private ‘Home-to-Home’ Dog Adoption: What You Must Know.

As Gentle Dog Trainers, we recommend that you go down the professional intervention route first.

Invest in a dog trainer or behaviourist that can teach you the latest techniques on how to calm a reactive or disobedient dog. It’s extremely rare that a dog is without hope of being reformed.

That said, sometimes you don’t have the time to train away bad behaviour because you have a newborn baby that’s at risk or a new pet that is being terrorised.

In those cases, rehoming is likely a better fit for your family and your dog’s future health and happiness.

You may need to consider rehoming your dog if they display:

  • Aggressive behaviour towards children
  • Aggressive behaviour towards other dogs or animals in the household
  • Sudden regression in training e.g soiling the house or destructive chewing
  • Failure to adopt basic commands over an extended period of training
  • Increased anxiety and distress around new family members such as a new pet or new baby

When Is the Right Time to Rehome a Rescue Dog?

So far, I’ve written this article assuming your dog has been with you for a while.

But what if your dog is new to your household and they are struggling to integrate?

Is it okay to rehome a rescue dog? When is the right time to do that?

Here’s the thing about rescue dogs: they need time to adjust.

Whether you were aware of any prior behavioural issues or not, all dogs need an adjustment period to settle into their new home.

But this is amplified if they’ve had a difficult or traumatic past.

Rescue Dogs 101 suggests there is a 3-3-3 rule when it comes to rescue dogs (2):

  • In the first 3 days
    Your dog will be anxious, overwhelmed and perhaps quite timid around the house. They may have a suppressed appetite while they adjust to the new surroundings.
  • In the first 3 weeks
    You’ll start to establish a routine with your dog. However, this is the point where they are likely to test boundaries. Behavioural issues can crop up and you must assert your authority during these delicate early weeks.
  • But don’t give up! This is a natural part of the process. Unless they are exhibiting extremely dangerous behaviour, I wouldn’t recommend you rehome a dog this soon. Seek professional advice for further clarity regarding any behavioural issues.
  • After 3 months
    Your dog should be fully settled. You should have established some clear boundaries using gentle training techniques.

    If at this point you’re having no luck and your dog simply doesn’t fit into your family dynamic smoothly, it may be time to consider rehoming.

Although this is a helpful framework, please don’t take it as an exact timeline.

One of my rescue dogs settled into our routine within a week. He was young and adapted to our home quickly.

Another of our rescue dogs took around 5 months of consistent gentle training to fully feel himself in our household. It took even longer for him to be socialised and feel comfortable outside of the home. This is because he had a traumatic past and feared humans. But we accepted that risk when we took him in.

So here are some quick tips to remember:

  • Ensure you’ve chosen a rescue dog that aligns with your capabilities as a dog owner.
    You may love dogs but not everyone has the skills to handle a dominant breed like a Doberman or German Shepherd.
  • Contact the rescue shelter for advice and guidance if your dog is struggling to settle in. They may suggest a dog trainer they trust or have special insight into your dog’s triggers.
  • Try to rehome your dog at the same shelter as you collected them from. This is because the handlers at the shelter know this dog well. So the transition won’t be as traumatic for them, and they will be more equipped to finding them their next home.

Finding the Right Home For Your Dog

So you’ve made the difficult decision to rehome your dog.

There are no judgements here. I know that sometimes it’s the best thing for all involved.

There are two ways to rehome a dog in Australia:

  1. Rescue shelters
    Many dog shelters around Australia will take in your dog or find appropriate foster care for them while they wait for adoption. (We’ll talk about rescue centres in the next section.)
  2. Private rehoming/selling
    You can take matters into your own hands and rehome or sell your dog privately. This will take up more of your time but you can be more confident that your dog is going to a good home. They will also avoid foster care or shelter care which can be traumatic to some dogs.

Below I’ve outlined my tips for rehoming or selling your dog privately.

Determine the best type of home for your dog

You’ve established that your dog is not the right fit for you.

Who could they be the right fit for?

Everyone’s perfect dog is different. My perfect dog is cat-like chill within the home and energetic outside of the home. I can handle difficult or domineering dog breeds because of my strength, patience, and in–depth knowledge of dogs.

But your perfect dog may be a friendly, bubbly breed that loves children and your elderly cat.

So with this first step, think of the perfect home for your dog. Use these questions to help:

  • Would your dog’s future owner need a good level of knowledge of dog training techniques?
  • Is your dog dominant or aggressive at all?
  • Can your dog cope with loud noises? Are they anxious in crowds?
  • Could a single person handle your dog’s energy or are they better placed in a couple or family dynamic?
  • Does your dog need a lot of space?
  • Does your dog need a lot of exercise?
  • How is your dog with children?
  • How is your dog with other pets?
  • How is your dog with other dogs?

Answering these questions will help you paint the picture of a dog’s ideal home.

Write this down for when you create your listings for adoption.

Create a profile for your dog with honest descriptors

When rehoming a dog, you want to give ALL of the details. Warts and all.

It’s important, to be honest when you advertise your pup for adoption.

At the same time, try not to write any harsh judgements or criticisms. Be as objective as possible.

For example, instead of writing…

“He was terrifying my two-year-old and we could not cope with the aggressive behaviour.”

…write

“He would be better suited to a home with no kids and with experienced dog owners who can train a reactive dog.”

Be sure to highlight your dog’s positive attributes too!

Are they affectionate? Energetic? Quiet? Loyal?

All dogs have good sides of their personalities so make sure your profile is balanced.

Related: The Best Dogs For Kids.

Advertise your dog for adoption

Reach out to local dog shelters, breed-specific rescues, and trusted friends and family who might be willing to help you find a new home for your pup.

Even if you don’t give your dog to a shelter, the shelter may still be able to help you advertise your dog for adoption.

There are also plenty of resources online to help you rehome your dog. Here are a few:

If you are selling your dog, look at other listings to price your dog correctly.

You don’t want the price to be too high or too low. Both will scare away high quality dog owners.

Screen Potential Adopters

Interview potential adopters thoroughly. You want to know all about their lifestyle, experience with dogs, and their expectations.

Here are some sample questions to ask a potential adopter of your dog:

  • Have you owned a dog before?
  • Do you have experience with this dog breed?
  • Have you dealt with a dog with (insert behavioural or medical issue here)?
  • Is your space adequate for a dog of this size?

A home visit can provide valuable insights into their living situation.

It’s vital that the adopter meets the dog at least once or twice before making an agreement.

Transition Carefully

Make the transition as smooth as possible for your dog.

Provide the new owners with information about your dog's routine, medical history, and any quirks they should know about.

Also consider giving the new owners your dog’s gear e.g. toys, food, bedding etc. This will help your dog transition as they’ll have their own items around them.

Related: What To Expect When Adopting A Senior Dog?


How to Rehome a Dog in Australia: Dog Shelters

Rehoming your dog with the help of a dog shelter is a great choice!

To make things easier, I’ve listed some top dog shelters across Australia that you can contact to start the rehoming process.

Top tip: Follow the first two steps of the previous section – defining the ideal home and creating a profile – to help the dog shelter create a better campaign for adoption.

How to rehome a dog NSW

How to rehome a dog VIC

How to rehome a dog QLD 

How to rehome a dog WA

How to rehome a dog SA

How to rehome a dog NT

How to rehome a dog ACT

How to rehome a dog TAS


My Final Thoughts

Deciding to rehome your dog is an incredibly difficult and emotional choice, but sometimes it's the best decision for both you and your furry friend. Life circumstances change, and our dogs' wellbeing should always be a priority.

So if you can’t give your dog the life they deserve, or they aren’t living their happiest life with you, it’s time to consider rehoming.

Remember, rehoming is not a sign of failure; it's an act of love and responsible ownership. By finding a suitable home where your dog will receive the love they deserve, you are acting in their best interests and yours.

FAQ

Do dogs cope with being rehomed?

Though rehoming a dog can be traumatic for them, they nearly always recover quite quickly. Dogs are incredibly resilient and adjust to their new surroundings with time. As long as they’ve been fostered or rehomed by loving carers, they will cope just fine.

Do dogs miss you when you rehome them?

Yes! Dogs do miss you when you rehome them. Your dog is also unlikely to forget you, should you meet them again. However, dogs are mentally strong creatures and adapt to new owners quite quickly. (3)

References

  1. Horwitz, D. Landsberg, G. “Disobedient, Unruly and Excitable Dogs”. VCA Animal Hospitals. Retrieved June 21, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/disobedient-unruly-and-excitable-dogs
  2. McKee, D. “The 3-3-3 Rule and bringing home a rescue dog”. Rescue Dogs 101. Retrieved June 21, 2023. https://www.rescuedogs101.com/bringing-new-dog-home-3-3-3-rule/
  3. Madson, C. May 24, 2022. “Should You Rehome Your Dog?”. Preventative Vet. Retrieved June 21, 2023. https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/rehoming-a-dog

Olivia De Santos


Olivia De Santos is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer and Video Content Creator.

Olivia has over 10 years of experience writing professionally and is a dog Mum to Pip, her Podengo and Blue, her Flat-coated Retriever. She loves writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners.

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