For many people, the decision to adopt a shelter or rescue dog results in a loving, long-term relationship that’s full of positive benefits. However, it’s important to acknowledge that not every adoption is a perfect match. While we’d all like to believe that every pet adoption story ends happily, the fact is that sometimes a newly adopted dog just isn’t the right fit for an owner’s home, family, or lifestyle. If you find yourself in this situation and aren’t sure what to do next, there are some things you can do to work through the process.
Just like any other relationship, your dynamic with your newly adopted shelter or rescue dog will follow its own timeline, and it’s important that you don’t try to force things to move too quickly. Your dog will need time to settle into its new home and family. The adjustment process can be particularly difficult for animals who have experienced neglect or abuse in the past. While there are plenty of things you can do to help facilitate this transition, your best bet is to be patient. If you feel like things are not working out between you and your dog, try to give it a little more time before you make any kind of final, irrevocable decision.
Do what you can to deal with behavioral issues.
You may find it difficult to hold on to the dream of a wonderful relationship with your adopted dog if he won’t stop chewing the furniture. Behavioral problems can often lead new adoptive owners to believe that their dog isn’t the right fit. However, it’s important to remember that there are things you can do to help deal with these kinds of issues. Working with a trainer or attending obedience classes can often provide the extra discipline and structure that your dog needs to curb troublesome behavior and become a better adjusted member of your household. In addition, a trip or two to the vet could be in order, as problem behaviors can sometimes be caused by undiagnosed medical issues. So even if your dog is not well-behaved initially, that doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be that way.
If necessary, attempt to work with the shelter to rehome the dog.
Sometimes, even when you’ve been patient and tried to work on problem behaviors with your adopted dog, it may become clear that the situation just isn’t going to work out and that the dog will need a new home. If this is the case for you, it’s usually a good idea to reach out to the shelter you adopted the dog from and discuss the next steps. In some cases, organizations will require that the dog be returned, but even if this isn’t required, it’s usually best to avoid rehoming the dog on your own. Shelters will typically have a wider network of potential adopters than individual owners. If you do have another owner in mind for your dog, you can let the shelter know so that they can facilitate the new adoption process.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Acknowledging that the adoption process hasn’t worked out and returning or rehoming a dog can be an emotionally challenging experience. However, if your find yourself in this situation, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. It’s not always easy to predict how an adoption will turn out, and sometimes the situation isn’t a good fit due to circumstances or other factors over which you have no control. It’s normal to feel disappointed or guilty if a dog that you have adopted ends up not being the right match. However, it’s always better to acknowledge this fact so that the dog can find a more appropriate home rather than to keep it in an environment that isn’t right for it or for your family.
Know what to do the next time.
Due diligence and proper preparation can go a long way toward ensuring that an adoption process is successful. Before you decide to bring home your next shelter or rescue dog, you should ensure that you’ve done your homework. Think carefully about why you want to adopt a shelter or rescue dog and what breed might best suited to your family’s lifestyle, and be honest about how much time, care, and other resources you will be able and willing to devote to a new pet.
Once you have a few possible adoption candidates, you should make multiple visits over an extended period of time so that you can obtain a more accurate sense of their personality and whether or not they’re the right fit for you. If you’re hesitant about dog ownership, it may also be a good idea to foster a dog first so that you can experience what it is like without having to make a long-term commitment that you’re not sure about.