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Do Dogs Feel Abandoned When Rehomed? That depends on you!

Have you recently adopted a new shelter pup? Or are you thinking of fostering a dog? It’s important to know any relevant information when bringing an abandoned dog into your home.

Dogs are homebodies. Anytime they are rehomed, it is often a stressful experience.

Whether your dog feels abandoned and how easily they adapt to their new living environment depends on many factors such as age, temperament of the dog, and previous living situations. 

Continue below to read more about why your dog experiences what they do when getting rehomed and the best ways to support them. 

Do Dogs Get Sad When They Change Owners?

Dogs are homebodies and naturally become connected to their pet owners when given proper care, love, and affection. Dogs can be our best friends and often consider themselves members of the family. 

Suppose a dog is abandoned by its owner with whom they had a good relationship due to death, moving, or other circumstances. In that case, it is extremely common for them to go through periods of depression and anxiety. 

Like humans, our canines go through a wave of emotional changes. If a dog’s owner dies, it is common for them to go through stages of grief. Older dogs especially have it more challenging if they have been with their owners for a long time. 

Fatigue and lack of appetite are common symptoms in dogs going through depression. On the other hand, dogs that come from neglectful or abusive homes may have a different experience. 

It is common for dogs to be rehomed from abusive or neglectful situations. While the dog is usually placed with a loving owner, challenges can arise at the beginning due to emotional and behavioral problems. 

PTSD is just as relevant in dogs as it is in humans, and canines who suffer from abuse may be aggressive, timid, or highly anxious in a new home at first. It is sometimes recommended that owners fostering neglected and abused shelter pups have houses with no other dogs or children. 

While this isn’t the case for every canine, many can become triggered by other animals and kids if they have not adjusted to their new home and been trained yet. If you are someone looking to bring in a new dog with an abusive past, patience, gentle training, and loving support are the most important ways of working with them. 

Finding a Better Home and Owner for Your Dog (is Not Abandoning)

Being a responsible and humane pet owner means making the transition rehoming process for your dog as stress-free as possible. Leaving a dog on the street is a cruel and almost inhumane act. Check out below for the best resources to rehome your dog. 

Friends and Family

Try to find someone you know to take your dog first is the recommended method to start with. Ask around to see if any of your family members, co-workers, friends, or friends of friends are looking for a dog. Rehoming with someone you know personally is the best way of ensuring they are a reliable pet owner. 


Ask your pups’ vet! Many veterinary offices are knowledgeable about local resources in the area and can provide you with some support and resources. They also may know reliable pet owners or patients looking to add another dog to the family. 

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Local Animal Shelter 

Local animal shelters will take your pup, but some people are hesitant about this, depending on the kind of animal shelter. Most local animal rescues and fostering programs are helpful and will connect you with groups of people looking to foster or adopt pups that need to be rehomed. 

How Long Do Dogs Miss Their Previous Owners?

Again, this depends on the factors of the dog. An older dog with a loving owner who could not keep them anymore may pine for its owner longer and take a few weeks to adjust. On the other hand, puppies who are under three months old bond almost instantly. Most dogs, in general, adapt pretty quickly (about one week) to a new home with a fun, loving environment.

How to Help Your Dog Transition to a New Home

How to Help Your Dog Transition to a New Home

As mentioned above, any rehoming is going to be stressful on dogs. Especially if there was a good relationship between the dog and its previous owner. This may cause our pets feelings of confusion, anxiety, and, unfortunately, abandonment. 

Thankfully, you can take steps to make the transition easier for moving your dog to a new home and helping them adapt to their new one. Communication and understanding between the previous and new dog owners are the most important things. Both sides should understand this information as it will help ease the transition of your fur friend. 

Meet and Greet

It is highly recommended and almost essential for your dog to meet its new owner before moving in with them. Make sure you know what breed, gender and size the dog you are bringing in is. Read about breed information and learn from previous owners the temperament and personality of the dog. 

If you feel like your home is an excellent environment to rehome the dog, then set up a time to visit with its current owner. Start by meeting the dog, maybe one-on-one, before bringing the dog to your new home to see. It is often recommended that the previous owner tags along on the initial visit to the new home to provide a sense of safety. 

Time and Patience

One of the most important things you can offer your rehomed dog is time to adapt. This isn’t an instant process, and unfortunately, we have to let them feel out of their environment and build a sense of trust. 

Spending time with your dog and building a bond at first will be the best way to do this. Try bringing them in on a day or weekend you have off and can spend most of the time with them. Try not to leave them home alone too much at first as they are adjusting and may be fearful of a second rehoming. 

Limiting New People and Pets

When dogs are under periods of stress, sometimes the overstimulation of meeting new animals and people, especially kids, can be overwhelming and possibly even cause aggression in dogs. 

Make sure your pet is comfortable with everyone that lives in the home before bringing in strangers to meet them. Also, monitor new meetings between your pets, new dog friends, and walks in the new neighborhood. When your dog does well around new people, pets and environments, give them a yummy reward for positive behavior.  

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Stability and Routines

Building a routine will help your dog adjust quicker and feel more stable and secure. Developing a schedule that works for you but that also possibly mimics their previous routine could be helpful. 

For experience, most dogs are used to getting fed in the morning before their owners leave for work. A walking routine for your pet will also be extremely important in helping them develop stability and keep their health up to shape. 


Not only can an abrupt diet change be confusing to dogs, but it can be harsh on their digestive systems. Especially smaller breeds such as Yorkies, Maltese, and chihuahua s with more sensitive stomachs. 

It may be a good idea to give your dog food they are previously used to at first. Foster shelters will often give diet specifications and sometimes even send home food bags with pet parents. 

Diet for rehoming dogs

New owners can gradually mix in new food and see how your dog does. Learning to understand their demeanor will be the most important thing as if they look like they are very open to new foods, they are probably fine. 

Relaxed Pet Parenting Style (Loving but not smothering) 

Getting a new dog is not easy, especially when it has previously lived somewhere else and has to adapt to an entirely new routine. As with everything, practice makes perfect, and you can’t expect to rush this process. 

One mistake some owners may make is being overly smothering of their new dog. Especially if your canine came from an abusive home, it might be a good idea to give them some space while still spending time with them.  

When first bringing the dog home, let them come to you, and don’t get overly excited. Sometimes it may be a good idea to bring a friend or family member with you so they can drive home.

If the dog is afraid of car rides, you can bond with your dog by consoling and comforting them. Talk to them softly and pet their backs.  

Learn their behaviors and don’t push affection on them. For example, no matter how bad you want to hold and cuddle your new dog, this cannot be forced if they are not feeling it. 

Being relaxed and gentle with your new dog is the best way to build a bond with them and get them trained and adjusted. Canines are very good at picking up on our energy, so if they sense you are calm and loving, they may reflect this in their behavior. 

Should I Visit My Dog After Rehoming?

According to research from Animal Behaviorist Patricia Mcconnell, this largely depends on how your dog is behaving after their new home. Giving them some time to adjust is important because they need at least a week to feel out of their new environment. 

If they are used to being left at places for vacations, you must give them some time to understand that they have been rehomed. If the dog is adjusting well and happy with the new family, it may not be bad to visit and see the dog. 

Although if a dog has been struggling with behaviors, it may be best to keep its distance. This allows the new owners to build a bong and develop a compatible relationship. It also may take time for your dog to look at someone else as their new master.