The most common reasons for returning or abandoning a dog



Every year, thousands of dogs are left abandoned through no fault of their own. It’s a common myth that abandoned dogs are aggressive or badly behaved and their owners were struggling to handle them, however this is often not the case. Loving and loved dogs which made wonderful pets can end up in shelters for a number of reasons.


Read through the top reasons for dog abandonment and ask yourself if you would have to give up your dog if you were placed in a similar position. This will not only help you decide if you are ready for a dog, but also help you make plans to ensure that your dog has a forever home in any eventuality.


Top Reasons for Dog Abandonment:

Wrong choice of breed – The temperament, character and needs of dogs can differ greatly from breed to breed. It’s extremely important to find a suitable match between you and your dog, otherwise you’ll both be unhappy with the situation. Like any long term relationship, you need to be compatible with each other or it won’t work out. In many cases, dog abandonment can be avoided by simply choosing the right breed for your circumstances and lifestyle.


Allergies – If you haven’t spent much time around dogs before, you may not even realise that you are allergic to them. It’s a good idea to get up close to some dogs before you buy – call in to see friends with dogs, spend time playing with the litter at the breeder’s and visit dog shows while keeping an eye out for any symptoms of an allergy. If you start suffering with allergies after purchasing then don’t immediately give up on your new pet; look into treatment options and talk to your doctor. It may be possible that you can manage and control your allergy.


Illness or bereavement – There’s nothing more stressful than going through a serious illness and while most of us would like to keep our pets around us during such a time it is often not possible. Should a dog’s owner die, family members and friends may not know what to do with the dog and end up giving it to a shelter. This can be avoided by planning for your dog’s future. Ask a friend or relative to consider taking on the dog should you something happen to you.

Relocation – One very common reason for people to give up their dogs is due to relocation. Sometimes owners need or want to move abroad and don’t know how to take their dog with them. Other times, they may be moving to a new home which does not allow pets. The key to avoid dog abandonment in these situations is to plan ahead. If you’re moving to another country, look into the options and costs for taking your dog with you. If you’re moving to a new home then start looking for a responsible new owner well in advance of the move, so that staying in a shelter can be avoided.


Behavioural problems – If a dog has behavioural problems it can be incredibly stressful and even dangerous for the owner. However, dogs with behaviour issues are not a lost cause and help can be found from experienced behavioural trainers. If you have an aggressive dog or dog with serious behaviour problems then it is always best to seek professional help. However, small behaviour issues can often be fixed with plenty of physical and mental stimulation. You can avoid this issue all together by properly socialising and training your dog from the day you get him.  If you feel as though you can’t cope then find a new owner for your dog yourself; choose someone who has plenty of experience in retraining and rehabilitating problem dogs.


Expense – Dogs are expensive to own. Many people assume that the priciest part of owning a dog is the initial purchase, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Along with costs like beds, bowls, collars and leads there’s the daily cost of food and high vet bills on top of that. A sudden change in circumstances can mean that many people can no longer afford to keep a pet, while unexpected costs such as vet bills may be unmanageable for some owners. By having a contingency plan and making sure you can comfortably afford your dog, you can avoid having to give up your dog due to financial reasons.


Dog illness – A number of dogs in shelters were abandoned because they have health problems. Dogs which are elderly or ill can be expensive to care for and may need a lot of special care and attention. What would you do if your dog developed an illness or debilitating injury? How will you feel about your dog when he’s old and weary?


Irresponsible breeding – It’s very important to neuter or spay your dog, otherwise you will find yourself with a litter of puppies to take care of! Puppies aren’t easy to take care of or sell, especially when the litter is unplanned and unprofessional. All too often, entire litters will be abandoned because they were a mistake. Be responsible and make sure your dog can’t breed.


Hard work – Dogs are time consuming and a lot of work, they’re not just cute and cuddly friends, they need to be taken care of by their owners. Sometimes dogs end up neglected and subsequently abandoned because the owner underestimated how much time and energy they need to put into caring for a dog.


New baby – Dogs will often be given up when their owners have a new baby. This might be because the family can’t afford the dog anymore, because they are worried about the safety of the new-born around the dog, or because they no longer have the time or energy to care for a pet now they have a child to look after. This can be avoided by training your dog how to act around children or choosing not to get a dog until the children are older.


Some of the reasons for having to give up a dog can be seen as legitimate, but most are just excuses and all of them can be prevented. It is always possible to prevent your dog from ending up in a shelter. Plan for your dog’s future, have some savings set aside o you can handle an unexpected change in circumstances, invest in pet insurance to help with the costs of vet bills, train your dog from an early age and most importantly do your research before you pick a puppy. Find the right breed for you and be 100% sure that you are ready and able to own a dog for the next decade or more. With careful planning and consideration, you can make sure that your dog will never have to see inside a shelter.


Summary checklist:

Could any of these reasons for dog abandonment affect you or your dog?

Wrong choice of breed


Illness or bereavement


Behavioural problems


Dog illness

Irresponsible breeding

Hard work

New baby

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