Before you resort to giving up your pet, read our helpful tips and see whether there’s another option.
Most pet owners would move heaven and earth to keep their pet by their side. But faced with life changes like moving house or a new baby, sometimes giving up their pet seems like the only answer for some owners. With the right approach, they may find that they can keep their pet. We look at common reasons why owners give up their pets and offer some alternatives.
‘We don’t have time for a dog anymore’
Dogs don’t actually require that much of your time – they’re mostly happy just to be around you! If you feel like you can’t offer your dog enough exercise or attention, you can:
- Hire a dog walker. They’re relatively inexpensive, will pick up your dog while you’re at work and it gives your dog a chance to interact with other dogs.
- Walk instead of drive when you nip down to the local shops. Even a 15 minute walk will exercise and stimulate your dog.
- Get your dog a friend. If you aren’t ready to take on a second dog then doggy day care is a great option. Or try Dogtree, a free online service that helps pair up owners and dogs for play dates in their neighbourhood. You can search for doggy play mates in your area by size, sex and level of socialisation.
‘I’m allergic to our cat’
Every day people manage allergies to everything from pollen to yeast, to cats and dogs. If you find you’re allergic to your pet, you can:
- Visit your local GP who can prescribe you some allergy medicatiocan. If one medication doesn’t work for you, let your GP know and try others.
- Bath your pet weekly to reduce the amount of fluff and hair shed in your house.
- Create an ‘allergy-free space’ in your home, a room you never allow your pet to enter where you can escape to for some immediate relief.
‘My dog is just so naughty!’
So you think someone else wants your naughty dog, then? With some effort, you’d be surprised how easily you can address problem behaviour in pets. To turn your naughty dog into a polite pooch:
- Find a good dog trainer. They can help you learn why your dog behaves the way it does, and teach you how to combat bad behaviour. The Australian Pet Dog Trainers Association or Delta Professional Dog Trainers are qualified trainers that can help you overcome almost any problem.
- Learn to train your dog yourself. If you don’t want to pay for a trainer, there are so many books and free online resources at your fingertips. Dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, so get yourself some dog treats and get reading!
‘We’re moving house and the landlord doesn’t allow pets’
It’s becoming difficult these days to find rental properties advertised as ‘pet-friendly’. Landlords are concerned about damage to their gardens and propelrties, which is fair enough. But pet-friendly rentals are out there. If you’re having trouble finding one, why not try:
- Pet Friendly Rentals offers an online tool that searches through real estate sites for pet-friendly rental properties. Much easier than trawling through ads yourself.
- Make a ‘pet resume’ including references from vets, neighbours or dog trainers and any obedience class certificates. Present it to potential landlords – you’d be surprised how many will make an exception for a well-trained pet.
- Introduce landlords to your pet to demonstrate first-hand how well behaved your pet is. Again, most landlords will make an exception.
'We’ve just had a baby'
Many new parents, especially first timers, feel that it’s too stressful or even dangerous to have pets around a new baby. Realistically, most cats and dogs are just curious about the smells and noises new babies make and will very quickly lose interest. Usually a little caution and good sense is all you need for babies and pets to co-exist:
- Prepare your pet for the change before the baby is born. Let your pet have a wander in the baby’s room and sniff all of the new baby stuff. Your pet will quickly get used to this new room and its smells.
- Increase ‘outside time’ before baby comes, especially with indoor pets, to get them used to spending less time inside with you.
- Introduce your baby and pet in a familiar and calm environment. Let your pet investigate and sniff the baby, and reassure your pet with pats and positive words. As they become more familiar, increase the duration of meetings.
- Go for walks together with baby and your dog to create a positive association.
Of course, there are some instances where it just doesn’t work out and surrendering your pet is the best option for both you and your pet. But with over 200,000 animals euthanised each year because they’re unable to find a new home, it’s crucial that you try your hardest to make things work.
Remember, by getting a pet you made a commitment and giving up your pet should be the very, very last option. And although pet ownership can sometimes be an expensive and chaotic juggling act, there’s no denying its huge rewards.
Source: '200,000 animals euthanised each year', PetRescue Australia.