5 min read

What To Think About Before Returning A Rescue Dog

Here's why you should wait at least a month 🐶

While nobody adopts a dog with the heartbreaking thought of returning him to the shelter, it does happen.

And while there are some rare cases where a return really does make sense for both the family and dog, sadly many returns take place because the adoptive family simply didn’t give the dog a fair shot.

In most cases, dogs are returned for behaviors that can be fixed with simple training — like a nervous pup urinating on the carpet when he first gets home, or barking at people on the street from the window.

Other people return a pup after just a couple of days because their new dog just isn’t energetic or bubbly — yet.

The Dodo spoke with Shelby Semel, head trainer at Animal Haven rescue in New York City, to find out more about why people return dogs — and how to make sure you don’t end up in the same situation.

Semel said it’s important to remember that your dog is going through such an emotional time when he’s going to a new home. Between a totally new environment, new people, other animals and decompressing from being in a shelter, it’s totally overwhelming. And your dog deserves the chance to adjust to his new surroundings before being judged.

“Before returning a dog to the shelter or organization you adopted from, I would ask myself: ‘Have I given the dog enough time to decompress?’” Semel told The Dodo.

According to Semel, the first few days — and possibly even the first few weeks — are not necessarily indicative of your dog's true colors.

You might notice your new dog is skittish, standoffish, moody — and maybe scared of the most random things.

It’s important to remember that there’s often a period of time — the timeframe varies based on the dog’s personality and past — where the dog is adjusting to an entirely new world.

“If you can wait out that period first, and give your new dog as much space as he needs, you can make a more informed decision,” Semel said.

Once the decompression period is over, many dogs will fit in with their families perfectly. But if you’re dealing with some training or behavior issues, you should ask yourself:

“I think it's very important you go into rescue knowing that you won't make a decision to return for at least a month, and with the assumption that you will keep and work through issues unless there are severe issues that you were not made aware of or that were unknown,” Semel said.

And just think — with all the bonding that’ll happen once your dog is decompressed and able to start training, the love that’ll form from your new pup knowing you never gave up on him will be unconditional — and full of snuggles.

Our Newsletter
Want more animals?
Get a daily dose of uplifting animal stories to your email inbox each morning.
By Signing Up, I Agree to the Terms and Privacy Policy.