What Do You Do with a Pet You No Longer Want?
There could be many reasons why you would get a puppy only to realize that you can’t keep them.
You may not have the time for such a responsibility. Your loved ones may not be as receptive to a new pet as you initially thought. Someone may have an allergic reaction to the pet, etc.
What do I do if I don’t want my dog anymore? If you decide that you don’t want your dog anymore, explore your social network, rescue groups, animal shelters, and pet sanctuaries to find the most humane solution possible for your dog. Carefully explore the options you have and implement them in a way that ensures the animal will find a loving home.
In this article, I will discuss these options as well as help you consider if you really have to give your puppy away at all.
You’ve Decided to Get Rid of Your Pet; What are Your Options?
Your Social Network
One of your first options should be to explore your own personal social network of friends, family, or coworkers. There’s always a very high chance that someone in your network is interested in a new dog.
You can also use social media with quality photos and a helpful description to help move things along. Once you find someone who’s interested, you may want to get a little background information to make sure your dog has found a good home.
If it’s a purebred puppy, you can take them to a breeder or rescue group. The American Kennel Club has a list of over 450 AKC Rescue Network groups for 160 breeds. Breeders usually lead these groups which focus on rehabilitation, rescue, and locating homes for specific breeds (source).
Rescue groups keep detailed records of their dogs to better help find the best home. They also make sure any prospective owners are well-informed on the breed so that they know what they’re getting into.
While most rescue groups are for specific breeds, there are rescue groups for mixed breeds or mutts (source).
Whether you have a purebred or mix-breed dog, make sure you provide as much information as possible to the rescue group to help ensure that the dog finds a home as soon as possible.
Local city animal shelters might bear the name of Animal Services, the Pound, or Animal Control. Typically, they do not turn away animals, which means they can quickly become overcrowded.
In order to make room for new arrivals, these animal shelters are forced to euthanize dogs that can’t find a home. For this reason, the animal shelter or “the pound” should be a place of last resort.
There are animal shelters that are “no-kill” shelters, so you should check before you take your dog to one. Such shelters are able to avoid putting dogs down because they limit admission into their shelter.
If you live in a major city where overcrowding is an issue, you may not be able to have your dog admitted to a no-kill shelter.
It is very little in the way of a screening process in an animal shelter, and it’s difficult for prospective dog owners to tell what they’re getting. Providing a little information on your dog to the shelter may help the dog find a home sooner.
Humane Societies and SPCAs
There are also local or state humane societies and SPCAs that limit admission to their shelters, which means that they are not required to euthanize animals.
Others are open-door, like other animal shelters, requiring them to euthanize dogs to make room.
The Humane Society of the United States focuses on legislation and animal rescue efforts but does not actually operate shelters.
Town-level and county-level humane societies are completely independent of the Humane Society of the United States and are usually local charities, although some humane societies may contract with local government.
Like humane societies, SPCAs, Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, are independent organizations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) refers to itself as the oldest humane society in North America (source).
Animal shelters will often turn to animal sanctuaries that may adopt the dog as an alternative to euthanasia. Animal sanctuaries only euthanize severely injured or terminally ill dogs.
The American Association of Sanctuaries has guidelines for its members that prohibit breeding or the commercial use of animals under most circumstances (source).
In relation to adopting a dog, here’s some reason why you should instead of buying:
Options for Military Personnel
For military personnel who might be considering donating their dog to a shelter due to an unexpected deployment, Dogs on Deployment can help find a temporary home without you having to give up your dog (source).
Common Reasons Pet Owners Give Their Dog Away
An American Kennel Club survey revealed that there are three main reasons owners seek to get rid of their dog.
The first reason is that the owner is undergoing a lifestyle change. The next reason is that it turned out that the breed was not a good fit for the owner. Then, another common reason was that they lacked the time to spend with the dog.
Lifestyle changes can be planned or unexpected. You may find out that you have to work longer hours, and now you don’t have time to properly train the dog.
If you’re in the military, you might be redeployed and have to find someone to adopt or temporarily take care of your dog. Another possibility is that you recently had to move into an apartment building.
It may be that the particular breed of dog will not adjust well to an apartment or that dogs are not allowed on the premises.
Adopting a pet may have had unexpected consequences for your family. Your spouse or other members of your household may not want a pet like you initially thought. It could be that someone in your household has an allergic reaction to the pet.
You may have small children in your house that could be endangered by certain breeds. It could be that someone in the home is abusing the pet, and you need to find a safe place for the animal.
Puppies Require a Lot of Time and Effort
New dog owners can be caught off guard by how much time and effort goes into training a puppy. Some puppies can be particularly destructive as they like to chew on things. They may even be prone to chew on you.
Housetraining can be particularly frustrating as you’re constantly cleaning up after a puppy. They may also keep you up at night with their crying.
The Breed is Not a Good Fit for You
If this is your first dog, you may not have considered if the breed you chose was well-suited to your particular lifestyle or circumstances. Some dogs were bred to be working dogs, and they will not adapt well to confined spaces like apartment buildings.
Just because a dog is small doesn’t mean it will adjust well to an apartment. Let’s say you adopted an interesting crossbreed like a Border-Collie Maltese mix out of curiosity.
While a Maltese might be well-suited as a lapdog, their Border Collie genes most certainly will not be.
High-energy dogs can be highly destructive if they’re not given an outlet for their energy.
Many hunting and tracking breeds like beagles are particularly prone to excessive barking. If you live in an apartment or an area with densely packed houses, this could cause serious problems with your neighbors.
You may have felt the tug on your heartstrings as you looked at that small lapdog. Only later did you discover that many toy breeds have a long list of health issues and require regular, often expensive, trips to the vet.
Alternatives to Giving Your Puppy Away
While some of the aforementioned issues will require that you find another home for the dog, you can work around many of them with a little effort. Try to think about why you got a puppy in the first place. They are a lot of work, but they can be one of life’s greatest companions.
Puppy Training Solutions
If this is your first puppy, be patient. Puppies cry when they’re left alone at night.
Crate-training is the most commonly recommended solution. It involves using a small box or crate with plenty of warm blankets, some chew toys, and a water dish. Some families use a ticking clock to soothe the puppy by stimulating the mother’s heartbeat.
Housetraining takes time and can be very frustrating. It will help to regulate their feeding time carefully since this is directly related to their bathroom schedule. For more information, check out this article “Should Dogs Eat More than Once per Day?”
You can also work through most behavioral problems with time and effort. If it’s your first puppy, you can seek advice from a trainer.
If a puppy bites you, use an unsettling voice to show your disapproval. Lightly tap the dog on the nose with two fingers and say, “No.”
If you’ve hit the dog out of anger, don’t panic. Dog’s can be very forgiving, but it’s important to develop better habits.
Letting the dog chew on your hand actually helps them to learn the appropriate level of pressure to use, but you don’t want them biting you or others except in exceptional circumstances.
If you know that you’re going to have exceptionally long working hours for an extended period of time, it might be worth your while to see if you have a daycare center for dogs in your area.
This can also be handy if you’re planning a long business trip or vacation where you can’t take your dog with you. If long working hours are going to be a regular part of your lifestyle, you will need to carefully consider if you really do have enough time to spend on a dog.
Solutions for Allergies
Just because you have an allergic reaction to your dog doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them unless you have a severe reaction. The use of HEPA-type air filters will help in addition to careful cleaning regimens.
If the dog is kept in the house, you can limit the number of rooms the dog can enter. Either you or someone else will need to bathe the dog more frequently and vacuum the house regularly.
Your doctor may also prescribe treatment to alleviate or eliminate your allergy symptoms.
Low-Maintenance Pet Alternatives
For some individuals, the main reason they decided that they had to give their dog away was their long work hours.
If you’ve decided that a puppy is too high-maintenance for you but you still want a pet, you may want to consider one of the options listed below.
Compared to dogs, birds are relatively low-maintenance and tend to live much longer lives. You will need to clean out their cages regularly and take care of their food and water.
Birds are, however, very sensitive to air quality. For this very reason, miners used to use canaries to test for toxic gas in mine shafts.
They can also be noisy, so keep that in mind if you live in an apartment. Veterinary bills from bird specialists can also be expensive (source).
Guinea pigs are another solid option, especially if you’re looking for something on the cuddly side.
Guinea pigs live in cages with bedding, which you will have to change out at least once every month. They will have to be fed daily, and their food and water dish should be cleaned daily as well (source).
Hamsters are also very low-maintenance. You will need to change their bedding every week though.
Also, hamsters are nocturnal, and they might be a bad choice if you’re a light sleeper. If you work night shift and you’re looking for a friend when you get home, you will be disappointed with a hamster.
Hamsters can also carry salmonella intestinally, and you should always wash your hands after handling them. They are also not well-suited to children under the age of eight who may not be able to handle them properly without injuring them (source).
Fish can be another low-maintenance option, especially the hardy Betta Fish, also known as the Siamese fighting fish.
This fish originates from Southeast Asia, where it inhabits puddles of still water and rice paddies (source).
In the case of the Betta, a clean aquarium is quite an improvement. You will need to either install a tank filter or clean the tank out regularly.
Betta Fish are carnivorous and you can buy meat-based fish pellets. Betta Fish should be fed once every 12 hours, but they can go through 24-hour periods without eating on occasion.
The benefit of having a reptile as a pet is that they generally eat less and require less interaction. They are particularly sensitive to temperature, though, and they require some source of heat to maintain their proper body temperature.
Turtles require a sizeable terrarium that contains both water and dry land. Your main challenge will be keeping the water clean since turtles will relieve themselves in the water. This will require you to clean the water several times a week (source).
If this sounds like too much work, you might want to consider a tortoise instead since they are primarily land-dwellers. Heat lamps are used to help turtles or tortoises maintain their proper temperature.
As far as feeding is concerned, mature turtles don’t have to be fed every day and can get by on four or five meals a week. However, young turtles should be fed every day to help them fully develop.
Among lizards, the Leopard Gecko is a favorite option because of its manageable size and temperament. However, like hamsters, lizards can carry salmonella, and you should always wash your hands after handling them (source).
Like other reptiles, Leopard Geckos will require a heat source. Heat rocks tend to get too hot, so a heating pad placed under the tank is usually preferred.
If your circumstances prevent you from owning a dog, or you’ve decided that you don’t have the time for a dog, you have a number of options to consider before taking them to the pound.
Check with family and friends first before checking into rescue groups or animal sanctuaries. If you have to take them to an animal shelter or humane society, check to make sure it’s a no-kill shelter. If it’s not, that should be your last resort.
Before you get rid of your puppy, make sure that you won’t have a change of heart. While the initial stages of puppy training can be frustrating, the results can be amazing. If you have the time, get to know your dog before making such a decision
If you don’t have a lot of time to spare on training an animal but would still like a pet, there are several lower-maintenance options. No matter what, taking on a pet will be taking on an important responsibility.