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Your Pet, Our Passion.
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RSPCA Advice for Giving Up a Dog

3 min read

There is no shame in struggling to cope with your dog. Whether it's down to behavioural issues, or your own personal issues, there is always plenty of advice and support on hand from the RSPCA. 

The RSPCA always urge potential owners to make sure they do their research before considering taking on a pet. It’s important that you really think through whether you have the time, patience, money and resources to care for that animal, for the rest of their lives. Being a pet owner is a big commitment, and so, doing your research before bringing home a furry friend is key to making sure you’re as prepared as you can be.

dog face being stroked

Circumstances change, and that's OK

However, the charity understands that sometimes people’s circumstances can change, which may mean they struggle to cope with their pet and may need to give them away. This is a heart breaking and difficult decision for anyone to make, but if you are struggling, we would always urge owners to please seek help from friends, or family, charities, and support services, and to never abandon their animals. 

What is the advice for dog owners struggling with their dog’s behavioural issues?
  • Sometimes our friends and family may not know that we’re struggling to cope and may be more willing to help than you might think. Whether that’s taking the dog for a walk once a day, or helping out with financial concerns, the people closest to us are often our biggest support.


  • Many food banks up and down the country not only have human food available, but also pet food for those owners who are struggling to afford to pay for their dog’s food. The RSPCA has linked up with food banks in London and the North West to help provide pet food to owners who need it, to ensure that their pets have full tummies despite their owner’s recent struggles.


  • Getting pet insurance is very important to make sure that, should something happen to your pet, finances will not be an obstacle in making sure they get the treatment they desperately need. RSPCA Pet Insurance is underwritten and provided by Covea Insurance plc, and can help your pet in their time of need. There are a range of pet insurance products to suit a variety of pet's needs, and for different budgets too. For those who are struggling to pay their vet fees, many vet practices will be able to set up a payment plan so that owners can pay in smaller instalments, rather than in one lump sum. There is also veterinary financial assistance available for those who are eligible through the RSPCA and other organisations like PDSA.


  • If you become unwell and need to go into hospital, in England and Wales, the council has a duty under legislation to make provision for the protection of property (which includes pets). This means they must board and care for those animals unless, or until, there are friends or relatives of the person who can do this. However, this is a short-term measure and it’s important that you think about who would care for your pet if you go into hospital or pass away. If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that we never know what might happen.


  • During the pandemic, the RSPCA urged owners to make an emergency pet care plan, but this is also a responsible thing to do at any time. We're asking owners to fill in an emergency pet care form and display this visibly in their home to ensure that, should the worst happen, there will be someone there to care for their pet.


      We know that one of the main reasons people decide to give up their dogs is due to behavioural issues and especially during the pandemic, when our lives have been very different, the concern is that as people go back to normal, behavioural issues may surface in their dogs.

Every dog is unique and may go through different struggles, but there is support available for pet owners who are struggling with, or worried about, their dog’s behaviour.

  • We would always recommend speaking to your vet first if you’re concerned about your dog’s behavioural issues. This way they will be able to rule out any form of illness or injury that could be causing the behaviour problem. Your vet can then refer you to a behaviour expert.


  • ABTC (Animal Behaviour and Training Council) registered professionals will work with you to identify the cause of your pet's behaviour problem, from aggression, barking, separation anxiety and a whole host of other issues. They will then develop structured treatment plans that are suitable for you, your pet and your circumstances. Treatment can vary from positive reinforcement training, to medication, so there are lots of options available to you and your furry friend.


  • From speaking to your vet, reading the RSPCA’s website, to enlisting the help of an animal behaviourist, there is help and support for anyone who needs advice.



dog looking at the camera

Knowing where to turn

If you find that every other avenue has been explored, and sadly you need to give up your pet, then please get in touch with rehoming charities rather than trying to sell or give away your pet online.


Although a post on Facebook may seem like the easiest option, it’s incredibly hard to vet people online and the last thing you would want to do is give your dog away to someone who won’t look after them properly.

Giving your pet to a reputable rehoming charity will mean that they get the best possible care, and the staff are able to go through a strict rehoming process to find them the perfect, loving home. No-one should worry about being judged or blamed if they find themselves in this very difficult position. 

Unfortunately, the RSPCA has to prioritise animals that have been rescued from our inspectors from some of the worst cases of abuse and neglect, but there are other reputable rehoming charities who may be able to help. 

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For more information on the support available to pet owners, please visit:

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.