Giving up your dog
We know that life rarely goes according to plan, and things don’t always work out, including owning a dog. If you are thinking you may need to give your dog up for adoption, then please call us on 0300 303 2188 or contact us via our form.
We’re here to help you make the right decision for your dog. And it won’t cost you a penny.
What happens if I need to give up my dog?
Step 1 – Contact us
Call us on 0300 303 2188 or contact us via our form. We understand what a difficult call this could be. Our staff will listen without judgement and will help you make the right decision for your dog. We may be able to give advice on managing the issue that has led to you considering rehoming. Whatever the situation, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
If we decide together that rehoming your dog is the best thing to do, we’ll take your details to pass on to your local rehoming centre and they’ll contact you as soon as they can we aim to get in touch within 72 hours) to discuss your situation in more detail.
Step 2 – Assessment
A member of staff from our rehoming centre will call you to find out more about your dog, and what they may need in a new home. If we can’t take your dog for any reason, we’ll let you know at this stage and advise you on other options.
If we can take your dog, you’ll need to fill in our Handover form, either on the phone with us, or via email. Once this is done, we’ll book an appointment for you to bring your dog to the centre for further assessment. (This is just the assessment and usually we wouldn’t take your dog at this point, though that could be an option and we’ll discuss that with you.)
When you come to the centre, bring any veterinary records you have, including vaccination certificates and microchip details. If your dog has a favourite toy or blanket, please bring that too. At the assessment, we’ll ask you more about your dog’s likes and dislikes and we’ll usually take them for a short walk to see how they react around other dogs and people. All this information helps us to see if your dog is going to be happy in kennels, and what they need in a new home.
If we don’t have a space free immediately, then we’ll ask you to wait until a kennel is available. We’ll do everything we can to help you and your dog as quickly as possible, but this could take a few weeks.
Step 3 - Bring your dog to us
Once we have space available, we’ll arrange a time for you to bring your dog to us. You’ll need to sign some paperwork to officially transfer the dog to us, and we’ll take good care of them from there.
Don’t hesitate to contact us
We know this will be upsetting, but we’re here to listen and help. We understand that times can get tough, and circumstances can change. We won’t judge you for needing to find your dog a new home. If you think you may need to give up your dog, please call us. We’ll offer all the help and advice we can.
Please don’t tie your dog to the gate or leave them outside - being left like that would be really distressing for them, as well as dangerous. And if we can talk to you about your dog’s likes and dislikes, it will help us find them a new home that’s perfect for them.
Contact us about giving up your dog
‘I gave my dog up for adoption after I had to change my job. I couldn’t work from home anymore and had to stay away overnight. My dog got so unsettled and his behaviour started to be a problem, it was horrible to see. I felt bad at the time but the right decision was to take him back to Dogs Trust.
I’ve heard that he’s now in a wonderful home. It had got to the point where he wasn’t comfortable around other dogs and now he has a little doggy friend; and has someone that can give him the love and attention he deserves.
It was hard but it was the best thing for him and I’m grateful to Dogs Trust for all that they did to give him a happy life, and for not making me feel judged at all through the process. They could not have been more supportive.’
Giving up your dog FAQs
How much does it cost?
Giving up your dog to Dogs Trust is free. It won’t cost you a penny. If you’d like to donate to our work, we’d be very grateful, but it’s not required.
What will happen when I call?
When you contact us, we’ll ask a few questions about your dog and the reason they need a new home, to help us work out if a rehoming centre is the right place for your dog.
We understand what a difficult call this could be. Our staff will always listen without judgement and help you make the right decision for your dog.
For some dogs, we may be able to help you manage the issue that has led to them needing a new home.
If we agree rehoming is the right thing to do, we will arrange an assessment.
What happens at an assessment?
We’ve put new safety measures in place to comply with all Government guidelines. All assessments will take place outdoors, or in a large indoor space where we can maintain social distancing. Appointments will be staggered to limit the number of people at the centre at a time.
At the assessment, a member of our training and behaviour team will talk to you about your dog, their likes and dislikes and what they may need in a new home. We’ll usually take them for a short walk to see how they react around other dogs and people. All this information helps us to see if your dog is going to be happy in kennels, and we’ll let you know straight away if we are able to take your dog.
You’ll need to bring your dog’s veterinary history, vaccination card, microchip details and any favourite toys or bedding. This will help them to feel more comfortable during the assessment as well.
Usually we’ll arrange for you to bring your dog back to us in a few days’ time, when a kennel has become available.
Is it safe to take dogs in at the moment?
We’ve put a range of safety measures in place to protect our staff and you. These include: protective clothing and equipment for staff, increased handwashing, using long leads to maintain social distance, and ensuring dogs are isolated when they come into the centre to minimise any possible contamination. Find out more about how we’re making sure our centres are COVID secure
Will you definitely take my dog?
Our aim is to find a new home for every dog that needs one. Our kennels are often full, and many dogs need special support and training from our staff to help them overcome their fears and worries. This limits the number of dogs we’re able to help at one time, so you may have to wait a while for a space to be available.
Some dogs just won’t cope with living in a kennel. If we think your dog will be unhappy in kennels, then we’ll talk to you about what options there are. We have a limited number of spaces in foster homes, so this might be an option.
I got my dog from you, will you take them back?
When you rehome one of our dogs, we commit to give you advice and support for their lifetime. Our Post Adoption Support team are available 7 days a week to help with any behavioural concerns, big or small. So if you think you may need to bring your dog back, please do get in touch with us. If we decide together that returning your dog to us is the best thing to do, we will take them back into our care.
It’s an emergency, can you take my dog now?
We’ll do everything we can to help in an emergency. If we have kennel space free, we may be able to take a dog straight away. Don’t hesitate to give a call to discuss your situation on 0300 303 2188.
Will you take dogs from people who have COVID-19? Or have died from COVID-19?
We’ll consider every case individually, according to the need of the dog, and carry out a full risk assessment before we take any action.
I want to give up an aggressive dog. Can you help?
Our aim is to find a new home for every dog that needs one, and we take in all kinds of dogs.
You may need to wait a bit longer before we can take them. We have an experienced behavioural team, but there’s a limit to the number of dogs with behavioural issues that we can take at one time.
In our centres, dogs usually share kennels. If your dog isn’t keen on other dogs, you may need to wait until a kennel is free just for them.
If your dog really doesn’t like other dogs and reacts aggressively, then a rehoming centre may not be the best place for them. If we think your dog will be unhappy in kennels, then we’ll talk to you about what options there are. We have a limited number of spaces in foster homes, so this might be an option.
If your dog is aggressive towards people, it is very unlikely that a rehoming centre is the right place for them. We have a duty of care towards our staff, volunteers and adopters, so we may not be able to take them at all. In these situations, we can offer advice on how you can manage your dog’s behaviour and may recommend that you speak to your vet for referral to a behaviour expert.
What will happen to my dog once they’re in your care?
All dogs receive a full health check, and using the information you’ve provided, we’ll tailor their care to suit their needs. All dogs will have nutritious meals, daily exercise, appropriate toys and plenty of attention from our staff. If a dog has behavioural issues, our behaviour experts will thoroughly assess them and create a training plan for them.
We’ll also start the search for a new home that perfectly suits their needs.
How long will the dog be with you before they are rehomed?
On average, it takes about a month for a dog to find a new home; but some will find a home within days, while some will be with us much longer. We’ll look after them for as long as it takes.
Will you put my dog to sleep if you can’t find a home?
We never put a healthy dog to sleep. If we can’t find a dog a new home, or there are reasons why they can’t be rehomed, they will always have a home with us. Dogs that who need very specific home environments that may take a long time to find, like some of our sponsor dogs, are very happy staying with us.
Will I be able to find out what happens to my dog?
While your dog is in our care, you’re very welcome to contact us to see how they’re doing.
Once a dog has found a new home, unfortunately we can’t give you updates or the adopter’s details. This is due to data protection and because, from our experience, we know it can be upsetting for everyone involved.
Can I visit my dog after I’ve given them up?
We don’t recommend visiting a dog once they’re in our care. Seeing you could be very distressing for them and equally distressing for you. So we ask you not to visit the rehoming centre after giving up your dog. But you’re very welcome to get in touch with us to see how they’re doing.
Once a dog has found a new home, unfortunately we can’t give you updates or the adopter’s details. This is for data protection reasons and because, from our experience, we know it can be upsetting for everyone involved.
What if I change my mind?
If you think you might have made the wrong decision, get in touch with us straight away. We can talk about why you wanted to rehome your dog in the first place and what’s changed. We’ll help you make the right decision for you and your dog.
We’ll always act in the best interests of the dog. If we think you are going to struggle to look after them, then we’ll be honest with you about that and we may not return your dog. When you give your dog to us, you sign a legal document which makes us their official owner, and we take our legal duty of care to the dog very seriously. We always do our best to avoid this situation by talking this through with you in the initial assessment.
Once a dog has been adopted by a new family, there’s nothing we can do to get them back, as legal ownership of the dog has been transferred to the adopter.
Giving up a dog can be really upsetting, and can be like going through a grieving process. If you’re struggling with accepting the decision you’ve made, then we’d urge you to talk to someone. Organisations like the Samaritans or Mind can help you deal with your loss.
I'm thinking about selling my dog or giving them to a friend
Selling or rehoming your dog via an online advertising platform has risks. You may not always know who is taking your dog, where they're going, how they will be treated, or that they will be cared for and loved. If we can take your dog, we’ll look after them for as long as they need us, with our staff and volunteers loving them like their own.
Another benefit of giving your dog to us is the expert behavioural and veterinary care we can offer. If you need to rehome your dog due to behavioural issues, we will create a training plan to help them overcome the problem. Without that expert care, someone else may find themselves in the same situation as you and unable to cope.
If you’re thinking about selling because you’re worried your dog won’t cope well in kennels, then a foster home may well be an option. We’ll discuss this at the assessment and if we decide that kennels aren’t right for your dog, or even if they become unsettled later, we can find them the perfect foster family to live with instead. There they can enjoy all the comforts they’re used to, while we find them a new forever home.
I don’t live near a Dogs Trust centre. Can I go somewhere else?
We accept dogs from all over the UK, you don’t need to be near one of our centres. Give us a call on 0300 303 2188 and we’ll do everything we can to help.
If it’s not possible for you to come to one of our centres, look for an alternative rehoming organisation that is a member of the Association of Dog and Cats Homes, so that you know they meet the minimum animal welfare standards required by law and will take good care of your dog.