For over 14 years, our team took in unwanted Dogs and found them new homes. We placed literally hundreds of them using this procedure. In an average month, I’d be asked to take 70 or more dogs and puppies that were either homeless or unwanted. Rehoming a dog exists in most of the United States and the result has been that there are no dog rescue/welfare volunteers in most of the country because they don’t have the resources to cope with the demand for their services. Finding a new home for an adoptable canine is not difficult, but it does require patience and persistence. It can take weeks or months to locate the right home for a particular pooch.
We highlighted 9 steps to rehome a dog:
- Soul Searching
- Call your breeder
- Evaluate our dog’s adoption potential
- Preparing a dog
- Interviewing potential adopters
- Meeting the applicant
- Saying good-bye
STEP 1: SOUL SEARCHING
There is a big difference between being forced to give up your dog and wanting to “get rid of him.” Search your heart for the real reason your little friend can no longer live with you. Your answer will probably fall into one of two categories: People Problems and Dog Problems.
People problems include the death of an owner, moving, divorce, a new baby, allergies, etc. With some planning and forethought, People Problems don’t always mean having to give up your pet.
Death of an owner: Truly a situation which requires that the dog find a new home. It is unfortunate that we are so reluctant to face our own mortality that we seldom make arrangements for the care of our pets after we have gone.
Moving: The number one reason people give for wanting to give up a pet. It is possible to find housing that allows pets. I have moved with my own Dogs, and yes, rental properties that accept pets do limit your options. But if you care for your dog as a member of your family, you would no more give him up because you had to move than you would place your human children for adoption. (The exception would be certain overseas moves which require lengthy quarantines.) In many areas, there is a publication called “Apartment Guide” which lists many apartments which accept pets. This publication can be ordered by calling 1 (800) 551-2787. (There is a $4.00 charge for shipping which can be applied to your Visa or MasterCard). Additionally, some animal shelters maintain lists of places which accept pets at no charge. Finally, if you gave this reason for placing your pet, you have probably already received information on how to find a home which accepts pets. If not, please call your nearest to request this information.
Divorce: In most instances, the dog only becomes an issue because one or both of the spouses has to move. (See above.) Rarely, I am called because one spouse (who doesn’t want the Dog) wants to make sure that the other spouse doesn’t get custody of the dog. Please consider that your dog is a living, feeling creature and act accordingly.
New Baby: It is possible to raise Dogs and children together, but it does require some effort on your part. If your Dog was properly socialized, a new baby shouldn’t be a problem. If he wasn’t, you have some work to do. Information on raising Children and Dogs is included later in this publication (see Sources: Dog Books).
Allergies: There are many ways to deal with pets in a household where someone is allergic. There are medications for people, products to use on dogs, and even the option of restricting where the Dog is allowed in the house to provide a home that is predominantly free of pet dander so the allergy sufferer can avoid the symptoms while enabling the family to keep their beloved pet. Some information on allergies and pets is available by request.
“We don’t have time for the dog”: As a puppy, your dog took far more of your time than he does now. A Dog doesn’t really take that much time. His requirements for attention are often less than those of most other breeds. Grooming need only take an hour a week. Are you really that busy? Can other family members help care for the dog? Will placing your Dog really make your life less stressful? When they look closely at their lives, people often discover that the dog isn’t cramping their style as much as they think.
Are you feeling guilty? Often owners think that a change of job requiring more working hours isn’t fair to the dog, but quite honestly, most of the time people spend at home with their pets is spent doing something other than fawning on the pet every minute and the actual attention the dog receives is far less than the owner thinks. Most dogs today live as 9-5 “latchkey” pets. Most Dogs, with their independent catlike nature, don’t mind a bit so long as they can count on someone to let them go potty on some sort of regular schedule and get their meals regularly.
If you are not sure if you have considered all of your options, sometimes making temporary living arrangements (in a boarding kennel or with a trusted friend or family member) for your Dog will help you buy a little time to work out alternatives.
Dog Problems include aggression, house-soiling, destructiveness, barking, fighting, bad manners, or other undesirable behavior. If you got your Dog as a puppy, and he now has a behavior that you can’t live with, you must accept the fact that you are at least partly responsible for the way your Dog acts now.
Owners of “problem” dogs always have 4 options:
|Find a way to live with the dog as he is.|
|Get help to correct the problem.|
|Give your problem to someone else.|
|Have the dog destroyed.|
You wouldn’t be reading this if the first option was viable and you are probably most interested in the third option, so let’s talk frankly about that for a minute. If you were looking for a dog and could select from all kinds of dogs and puppies, would you deliberately choose one with a behavior problem? No, certainly not–and neither would anyone else. To make your Dog desirable to other people, you’re going to have to take some action to fix his problems.
Most behavior problems aren’t that hard to solve if you’re willing to make the effort. Think hard about the second option before deciding it won’t work for you–because the only option you have left is number 4: Having the dog destroyed. That’s the bottom line. If you, who know and love the dog won’t give him another chance, why should anyone else?
Please don’t make the mistake of “trading” this dog in for another one that you think will be easier to work with. If you didn’t train this one properly, you probably won’t get the next one right either. If you’d keep your Dog if only he’d behave better, visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers website to find qualified trainers in your area to help you work with your dog’s problems.
STEP 2: CALL YOUR BREEDER
Before you do anything else, call the person you got your dog from and ask for help. Even if several years have passed, responsible breeders care about the puppies they have sold and will want to help you find a new home for your Dog. All breeders have a moral obligation to the future well being of the dogs they bred, although only the truly ethical ones will be willing to assist you. If your dog was bred by a member of the Dog Club, Inc., they have taken an oath of ethics which requires them to assist you. Please be advised that this does not ensure that your Dog will find a new home. The breeder may feel that your Dog is not placeable due to temperament, age, physical condition, etc. Your dog could be destroyed. At the very least, the breeder deserves to know what you intend to do with the Dog and what will happen to it.
If you can’t remember the breeder’s name, look on your dog’s AKC registration papers. If you got your dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue, read the adoption contract you signed when you adopted him. You may be required by the contract to return the dog to them. You may need to make a call to directory assistance to get the telephone number. If you are unable to locate the number, call information to get the current area code for the city and state you are trying to reach. The actual phone number may be the same, but you won’t be able to reach the breeder without the proper area code and there have been many new area codes added in the last few years.
STEP 3: EVALUATE YOUR DOG’S ADOPTION POTENTIAL
To successfully find a new home, you need to be realistic about your Dog’s adoption potential. Let’s be honest: most people don’t want “used” dogs, especially if they have health or behavior problems. Your dog will have the best chance if he is under 4 years old (the younger the better), is healthy, friendly to strangers, obeys commands and adapts quickly to new situations. Look at your dog as if you were meeting him for the first time. What kind of impression does he make? Would you want to adopt him?
The following list will help you determine your dog’s adaptability. Please rate your dog on a scale of one to ten with ten being the “ideal dog” and “zero” being the “least desirable dog” for each item.
Is your dog friendly to all women? _____
Is your dog friendly to all men? _____
Is your dog friendly to all children? _____
Does your dog enjoy being groomed? _____
Can you take items away from your dog? _____
Can you handle your dog’s feet? _____
Can you give your dog a bath? _____
How is your dog around cats? _____
How is your dog around other dogs?
Of the opposite sex _____
Of the same sex _____
Will your Dog
lay on his side for you? _____
allow you to push him into a sit? _____
walk on the lead without pulling? _____
obey simple commands? _____
allow you to pick him up? _____
Does your Dog
bark uncontrollably? _____
chew or act destructively? _____
jump fences or run away? _____
ever threaten you? _____
Has your Dog ever bitten, nipped at, growled at, or snapped at anyone?____ (answer yes or no)
STEP 4: PREPARING YOUR DOG
Having decided that your Dog really must find a new home and that his temperament is suitable for a new owner, it is time to get him ready for adoption.
- Take him to your veterinarian.Make sure his vaccinations are up to date (bare minimum: rabies, distemper, and parvo vaccinations) and that he tests negative for heartworm and intestinal parasites. Tell your veterinarian about any behavior problems your dog may have so that he can rule out physical causes. Some behavior problems are caused by treatable health conditions: for example, housesoiling can be caused by worms, urinary tract infections, diabetes, or hormonal imbalances. There may be other medical causes as well.
- If your Dog is not spayed or neutered, do it NOW!Placing your Dog with reproductive organs intact could place his life in serious jeopardy! Quite honestly, no reputable breeder will want him unless he came from a well-known Dog fancier in the first place. If he came from a reputable, ethical breeder, your dog was placed when you followed step #2 and notified the breeder that you can no longer keep him. The only kind of “breeder” who will be interested in your Dog will be a backyard breeder, puppy miller, or dog broker.
It is not uncommon for backyard breeders to acquire “cheap” breeding stock from homes like yours. The backyard breeder won’t ask questions like whether he’s been radiographed for hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, won’t ask about entropion or thyroid conditions, or any of the other congenital defects known to occur in Dogs. That is because they are unaware of these problems, are motivated by profit or they want to breed their dog “just once” for any one of a variety of reasons. What happens next is heartbreaking: When they discover it is a lot of work to have puppies, or that they didn’t make as much as they thought, or their mate for your dog doesn’t like your Dog, your dog goes back into the homeless cycle. Only they probably haven’t had the Dog as long as you did and may not have the same emotional attachment to him or her that you did and may be less inclined than you are to find the Dog a good home.
Dog brokers seek out unaltered purebred animals for resale to puppy mills or research laboratories. Sometimes Dogs (particularly males) are sold to “pit fighters” to train illegal fighting dogs how to kill in pit fights. Certainly not the kind of future you want for your Dog.
Having your Dog spayed or neutered is the only way to ensure your dog will not end up in a mill. It’s the best way to ensure that your Dog will be adopted by a family who only wants him for a best friend and member of the family. If you think you can’t afford to have your dog neutered, please see the information on Friends of Animals Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Program.
- If your Dog has never been tattooed or microchipped, this would be a good time to do so. It’s not unusual for newly adopted dogs to get loose and become lost. A permanent ID will help your Dog get back to you or his new owners. Further, research institutions routinely check for this kind of identification and are required by law to follow up on any permanent identification they find on any dog which comes into their possession to make sure the dog was legally obtained.
- Groom your Dog! Get rid of all the mats and tangles and give him a bath. (Do it in that order–if you bathe him first you can make the mats tighter and harder to remove, also, it is harder to get all the shampoo out.) Make sure he’s neatly trimmed. If you can’t do these things yourself, take him to a groomer. Get rid of his old rusty choke chain and buy him a nice new, strong collar and lead. You want your Dog to look beautiful and make a good impression on prospective adopters. Make sure he’s clean and well dressed!
- Decide on a reasonable adoption fee. You can’t expect a new owner to pay you anywhere near the same price as they would for a shiny new puppy. A reasonable range might be $65-$150, enough to offset some of your neutering and advertising costs.
STEP 5: ADVERTISE!
Don’t be afraid to use classified ads to advertise your dog. Word of mouth doesn’t go very far! I have long since exhausted the possibility of friends and family adopting Dog orphans and use classified advertising extensively. Done right, it is the most effective way to reach the largest number of people. There are tricks to writing good ads that will generate interest while not misrepresenting your Dog and also do some preliminary screening for you.
At the very least, your ad needs to give a concise description of your dog, his needs, your requirements for a home, and of course, your phone number. You should have an idea of what the ideal home would be for your Dog and then you’ll have to know what things you are willing to compromise on.
Your description of your Dog should include his breed, color, sex, the fact that he or she has been spayed or neutered, and an indication of his age. Hint: If your dog is under one and a half years old, state his age in months so that he will be perceived as the young dog he is. If he’s over three, just say that he’s an “adult.” Many people wrongly believe that an older Dog won’t adjust to a new owner. If your dog was bred and raised properly, this isn’t true. There are definite advantages to an “older” dog: what you see is what you get, they generally don’t chew anymore, you’ve already gotten the dog housebroken, perhaps he even has some obedience skills, etc. You should point out these advantages to your potential callers. An older dog is the best choice for a family where everyone is gone during the day!
Emphasize your dog’s good points: Is he friendly? Housetrained? Well mannered? Love kids? Don’t keep it a secret, but don’t exaggerate either. Knowing his name doesn’t make him “well trained.”Pre-qualify homes by stating any definite requirements. Try to state these in a positive way: “Kids over 10” sounds much better than “No kids under 10.”
Always state that references are required! This lets people know that you are being selective and that you won’t give your dog to just anybody. It will keep some people with bad intentions from dialing your number and prepare those that do call for the barrage of questions you’ll be asking them.
Never include the phrase “free to good home” in your ad! Even if you are planning to give your Dog to the right family. In fact, it is best not to give any reference to the price at all! This gives you a lot of latitude in dealing with callers. “Free” generates a lot of calls from people you won’t even want to talk to, let alone give your Dog too. If you get caught on the phone with one of these callers and your ad has no reference to price, you can easily discourage the unsuitable prospect by quoting an outrageous figure and just as easily give your dog free to that perfect family should you desire, even if you already had a reasonable fee in mind. Ideally, you should ask for some reasonable amount. Someone who isn’t willing to pay it may not value your dog enough or be able to afford your Dog’s future upkeep.
Your ad should look something like this:
“Dog Dog: Beautiful young adult red male, neutered.
Friendly, housebroken & well behaved.
Best with children over 10.
Fenced yard, references required. 555-1212”
Besides your local newspaper, advertise in major papers nearby. Schedule your ad so that it appears in Sunday’s paper–the issue that’s the most read and widely circulated. If your budget is very limited, run your ad on Sundays only. Nearly every community also has small, weekly “budget-shopper” newspapers that offer inexpensive classified advertising. Take advantage of them!
Newspapers are just one way to advertise. Take a good cute photo of your Dog and have copies made. Duplicating pictures can be done for as little as a quarter at many photo shops. Attach the photo to a flyer on colored paper: it doesn’t have to be expensive, professional, or computerized–just neat and eye-catching. Since you aren’t paying for words or lines, you can write more about your Dog than you can in an ad. Be descriptive!
Post your flyers anywhere you can find a community bulletin board. If you have friends in a nearby town or city, email them a supply of flyers and ask them to post them for you in their area.
Make sure you use a number where you can be easily reached or use an answering machine!
STEP 6: INTERVIEWING POTENTIAL ADOPTERS
Talking to prospective adopters can be frustrating and time-consuming. Please be patient! It may take several weeks before you locate the “right” home for your Dog. To help you along, we’ve included an Adoption Application. This will help you to ask the right questions. People who are indignant about answering your questions or make remarks like: “This is worse than getting a mortgage!” or “We’re not trying to adopt a child!” need to understand that this Dog is a member of your family. If they don’t appreciate the care you are taking in finding a good home for your Dog after this very reasonable explanation, chances are they aren’t going to value your pet as a member of their family.
You are under no obligation to give your Dog to the first person who says he wants it, nor to make an appointment with someone who says he wants it! You have every right to ask questions and choose the person you think will make the best new owner. Don’t let anyone rush or intimidate you!
Part #1 of the Adoption Application asks for information about the family interested in adopting your Dog. It is important to get information that you can verify, such as their name, address, and phone number. Deceptive people may call you from a phone booth or from a fake address. Make sure that all of the adults in the household approve of getting a Dog! Not all surprises are pleasant ones, and often one person will be unaware of the others’ plans. Sometimes they want to surprise the spouse or roommate with a gift. (Not a good idea!) Other times, the second person doesn’t really want a dog, but the person who called you is convinced that everything will be OK once the dog gets home and the spouse “falls in love with it.” These situations seldom work out the way the caller planned.
While you may think it is none of your business to ask personal questions such as the presence of children or future children, they are essential to the future well-being of your Dog. If your dog is not good with young children, future children mean a future without a family! It is not unusual for young married couples to “test parenthood” by obtaining a pet. Often, when a human child arrives, the pet is displaced or unwanted (they miss the point of the “test”–a level of commitment that should last for the life of the “child!”) Even older couples often have exposure to young grandchildren, so it is important to know whether the Dog will have to spend time with visiting children. Some people may be willing to make compromises (such as putting the Dog outside), but it isn’t anything you should count on!
People with allergies are often allergic to pet dander. The pet-owning history of the family is often a determining factor in whether or not allergies could be a potential problem.
Part #2 of the Adoption Application asks questions about the potential adopter’s pet-owning history. These are very important questions since they indicate whether this might be an appropriate family for your Dog and what the future might hold for your Dog if they do indeed adopt him!
What dogs have they had and for how long? Most importantly: What happened to the dogs they had before? Ideally, you want to hear that the dog died of old age or that they have had it for several years and still have it! The following answers to this question should make you very suspicious: “We gave him away when we moved.” “We gave him away because he had some problems.” “We’ve had lots of dogs!” “He ran away.” “He was stolen.” “He was hit by a car.”
With occasional rare exceptions, these answers indicate a lack of commitment to the pet! Moving is almost always a poor excuse to give up a pet. Exceptions would be moves to certain overseas countries with long quarantine periods (most likely encountered with military families) or the owner who is seriously ill/injured and must move into a facility which doesn’t permit pets (i.e.: nursing home). Almost everyone else can find a place that will allow dogs if they try hard enough. If they gave up their last dog that easily, there’s a good chance they’ll give up yours someday, too, particularly if they are renting! A real clue to a concerned pet owner is to find out if the caller can give you the name and number of the current owner of that dog! Someone who meant to do right by their dog will be able to provide this information, and you should verify that the information is accurate and that this home is a good one if you are considering this potential adopter for your dog! (But be aware that you could be given the name and number of a friend who may never have had the dog at all!)
Most behavior problems (house soiling, chewing, barking, digging, running away) are a result of lack of training and attention. If the caller wasn’t willing to solve the problems he had with his last dog, he probably won’t try very hard with your dog either.
People who have had numerous dogs in a very short period of time may not have kept any of them for very long. There are some of us out here who own multiple dogs and keep them until death do us part; older people can have owned many dogs for quite a long period of time, so “lots of dogs” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to be wary of.
Does the caller have pets now? What kinds? Obviously, if your Dog isn’t good with cats or other animals and your caller has them, the adoption isn’t going to work. Better to turn people away now than have to take your Dog back later. The sex of their other dogs is an important consideration: Dogs seldom get along with other dogs of the same sex! Dogfights can be serious trouble and result in bad injuries or even the death of one or both of the dogs. I recommend that you don’t place your Dog in a home with a dog of the same sex unless you are absolutely certain that they’ll like each other!
What does your caller know about Dog Dogs? What do they like about them? Find out what kind of dog “personality” they are looking for. Many people are attracted by the looks of the breed but don’t know anything else about them. If their expectations don’t match your Dog’s disposition, the adoption isn’t going to work. Be honest about the good traits (quiet, laid back, clean, loyal) and the bad traits (stubborn, independent, requiring extensive socialization and grooming) of the breed. Be very cautious of anyone looking for a “mean” dog. Make sure they know the difference between a Dog Dog and a Chihuahua! (It sounds funny, but there are people who get the two mixed up!)
Part #2 of the Adoption Application also asks about the kind of home your Dog would be going to. Again, some of these questions might seem a little personal, but they are important to your dog’s future!
First, does the caller own or rent? If renting, you must verify that the caller is allowed to have a dog the size of a Dog. You would be amazed at the number of times people get dogs they aren’t allowed to have with the idea that no one will notice or care!!! Owning a home doesn’t get you off the hook either! Trailer parks, condo associations, and senior communities often have rules concerning pet ownership. To protect your Dog, you must verify that he will be welcome in the adopter’s community. Get the name of the landlord and his phone number and verify the information! Get in touch with the management office of the trailer park, condo association, or senior community. Your Dog’s life may depend on it!
Does the caller have a fenced yard? Your Dog will need daily exercise. Without a yard, how will he get it? Can the caller provide it with regular walks? If the yard isn’t fenced, how will the caller keep the dog from leaving his property? (Anyone can lose one dog this way, how will he prevent this from happening again?) Does the caller understand that our independent Dogs will wander off if left unsupervised? And even when supervised they have a mind of their own and won’t necessarily come when called? Does he know that keeping a Dog tied up can have a bad effect on the dog’s temperament?
Where will the dog spend most of its time? Although Dogs love the outdoors, a whole life outdoors probably isn’t what you have in mind for your dog. Dogs that live outside are often neglected, lonely, and may develop behavior problems. They can suffer frostbite in the winter or heatstroke in the summer.
Are there any unusual circumstances the Dog will have to adapt to? How do you honestly think your Dog would adapt to the situation? Please don’t take chances with your dog’s life: when in doubt–don’t!
Part #3 of the Adoption Application asks questions which are designed to help you gauge the caller’s level of commitment to your Dog. Dogs won’t respect idiots or fools! All adopters of dogs should take a basic obedience class with their new pets!! This experience puts the relationship between the two in perspective. It refreshes the Dog’s skills and lets him know there will be rules in his new home. It refreshes the adopter’s skills and hopefully prevents bad habits from starting, or corrects them if they are already there. It also helps bond your Dog to his new owner and makes sure he gets the attention he needs. (Please note I follow this advice even though I am an obedience instructor!)
You should have had your Dog neutered but if you didn’t (shame on you!) make sure the new owner will!
Finally, someone who has nothing to hide will not object to your coming to your home for a visit! Please note that you aren’t going there to inspect their housekeeping skills, but to verify that the home exists where they said it was and that it is what they said it was (more on this later!)
Part #4 of the Adoption Application asks for personal and veterinary references. This is critically important even if the caller has never had pets before!
I always call the veterinary reference first, if the applicant has had pets before. You want to verify that their previous pets were spayed or neutered and kept up to date on all routine care: vaccinations (bare minimum Rabies, Distemper, and Parvovirus, anything else can be viewed as a “plus”), heartworm testing and preventative, parasite testing and control. If the veterinarian or his staff resists answering your questions after you have explained the reason for your call, it may be necessary to have the applicant call the vet and give permission for information to be divulged to you. If you can’t verify everything, make sure that you ask the applicant for other names the pet may be listed under (people forget that the records are under a different name than the one they use now) or other veterinarians he may have patronized. (Some people use the free Rabies clinic where available.) If the past dog was not on heartworm preventative, find out the veterinarian’s policy! There are still some vets out there who don’t educate their clients about heartworm disease for one reason or another and this shouldn’t be held against the applicant. (But do educate the caller yourself or refer him to your own veterinarian for information about heartworms!)
I can’t recommend strongly enough that one of the personal references provided is a direct neighbor to your applicant! Given their own choice, most applicants will give you close friends or family members as references. These people may not be totally honest with you, although they probably don’t mean to put your Dog in jeopardy. A neighbor should be able to tell you how long he’s lived next to your caller and be able to verify some very important information. The neighbor will know if the last dog lived in the yard and barked all day, or if it lived in the house and always looked great! He will also likely know what dogs are living there now and what ones used to live there before these dogs arrived. Find out how many dogs the neighbor thinks your caller has! If this number doesn’t match what the caller said, be suspicious. We have often had an occasion where a vet or neighbor brought up pets the caller didn’t tell us about. Usually, the caller has had a reason for hiding this information! In short, try to get the neighbor to verify as much of the information the caller gave you as possible by asking the neighbor the same questions you asked the applicant: i.e.: What kind of fencing does Mr. X have? How tall is it? Will it safely contain a pet dog? The answers you get may not be what you expect! Also, ask the neighbor if he would give Mr. X a pet dog. Why or Why not?
STEP 7: MEETING THE APPLICANT
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of prospective callers to a handful of candidates, you can make an appointment for them to meet your Dog. It is actually best if there are two appointments: The first at your home, where you are more comfortable; and then if that goes well, have the second at theirs to deliver your Dog. Having an appointment at their home allows you to see if their house and yard are what they said and to see how your dog reacts there. It gives you an opportunity to call off the adoption if things aren’t as represented or if you get a “bad feeling.”
If the family already has a dog or dogs, you should plan on introducing the dogs on “neutral” territory to give you a more objective idea of how the dogs will get along. Most dogs are more confident in their homes or on their own property and may resent a strange dog coming there, resulting in hostility or possibly a fight.
The entire family should attend the interview. All the adults and all the children. You need to be sure that all the adults in the household do agree to the addition of a new family member. You also need to see how the dog will react to the children and how the children treat the dog. Some allowance should be made for kids’ natural enthusiasm, but if these children are undisciplined, disrespectful, and not kept in hand by their parents, your dog could be mistreated in its new home and someone could get bitten.
Do you like these people? Are you comfortable having them as guests in your home? Would they make good friends? If not, don’t give them your Dog. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, even if you can’t explain what it is, don’t take a chance on your dog’s future. Wait for another family.
After the initial interview, give the new family a day or two to decide if they really want to adopt your dog. Make sure they have a chance to think about the commitment they are making. If the family wants to adopt your Dog, and you are comfortable with it, set up the second appointment. There are some things you should do while you are waiting for the prospective adopters to make up their minds.
STEP 8: SAYING GOOD-BYE
While your adoption candidates decide whether to adopt your Dog, you should get a package ready to go to your dog’s new home. That package should include:
- Your Dog’s medical records, including the name, address and phone number of your veterinarian.
- Your name, address, and phone number (new address and phone if you are moving).
- Your Dog’s toys and belongings (bed, blanket, etc.), a supply of dog food and special treats he loves.
- An instruction sheet on feeding, special needs, etc.; some reading material about the Dog Dog Breed AND about dogs in general.
- Collar and leash; ID and Rabies Tag.
Set aside a special time for you and your Dog to take a last walk together and say good-bye. We know you’ll probably cry. Do it now, in private, so you are clear-headed when he has to leave. He may be confused about being left with strangers and you don’t want your emotions to upset him even more.
STEP 9: PAPERWORK
There are some things you need to explain to the new family before you leave: The dog will go through an adjustment period as he gets to know his new people, learns new rules and routines, and mourns the loss of your family. Most dogs adjust within a few days, but others may take longer. During this time they should avoid forcing the dog to do anything stressful: meeting too many new people at once, forcing obedience lessons, taking a bath, etc. They should wait a few days to let him settle in. In the meantime, they should leave his leash on him even while he’s in the house. This will make it easier to prevent him from slipping out the door, enable them to get him outside quickly if they notice he has to go to the bathroom or control him if he does something they don’t like! (They can take it off if they are not going to be around to supervise so he doesn’t get wrapped around furniture.
Make sure they know to give the dog time to bond to them. He may not eat well for the first day or two. Not to worry, he will eat when he’s ready. Some dogs will have an accident the first day or two in their new homes, even if they are impeccably housebroken because they don’t know the new routine. This isn’t unusual and rarely happens after the first day.
Have the new owner sign an adoption contract with a waiver of liability. Keep a copy for your records. The contract will help protect your Dog and the waiver of liability helps to protect you. You don’t have a crystal ball to predict what your dog might do in the future! Remember: a waiver of liability will not protect you if you have lied or misrepresented the dog to his new owners.
Make sure the new family understands that you want them to call you if they have questions or problems and that you want to stay in touch with them. Let them know that if you haven’t heard from them in a few days with a progress report, you will be calling to see how everything is going. Be willing to take the Dog back home if things don’t work out the way you both expected. Make sure that the family understands that you will take the Dog back if things aren’t working out. (If you have been very careful following the advice up to this point, it is unlikely that this will happen; but if it does, make sure you find out exactly why they are returning the dog so that you can make a better choice the next time.)