Step 1. Call your dog’s breeder.
Before you do anything else, call the person you got your dog from and ask for help. Even if several years have passed, responsible breeders care about the puppies they sold and will want to help you find a new home. They may even take the dog back. At the very least, they deserve to know what you intend to do with the dog, and what will happen to it. If you can’t remember the breeder’s name, look on your dog’s registration papers. If, however, you do not feel comfortable releasing the dog back to the breeder, don’t do it.
If you got your dog from an animal shelter or rescue service, read the adoption contract you signed when you adopted him. You may be required by the contract to return the dog to that rescue organization. In a case like this, the rescue will take back the dog and find it a loving home.
Try networking with friends, relatives and co-workers. There could be someone you know who just might consider adopting your dog.
Step 2. Evaluate your dog’s adoption potential.
First, check your dog to see if he has the right stuff to become a Working K9 Service Dog. If so, contact our Working Dog Program coordinator to set up a time for an evaluation. If not, continue reading for more help.
To successfully find a new home, you need to be realistic about your dog’s adoption potential. Let’s be honest: most people don’t want “used” dogs, especially if they have health or behavior problems. Your dog will have the best chance if he’s less than 4 years old, is healthy, friendly to strangers, obeys commands and adapts quickly to new situations. Look at your dog as if you were meeting him for the first time. What kind of impression would he make? Would you want to adopt him?
You already know that German Shepherds are special dogs for special people. Those special people can be very hard to find. Most people interested in German Shepherds today have never had one before. They want a dog that will greet them with a wagging tail and a big smile. If your dog is aggressive to strangers, is “temperamental” or has ever bitten anyone, finding him another home may not be your best option.
What kind of home do you want for your German Shepherd? A large fenced yard? Another dog to play with? Children? No children? Make a list of what you feel is most important for your dog. Then get real. No home will be perfect of course, so you’ll have to make compromises. What kind of people are you looking for? What will you be willing to compromise on? Once you have a firm idea of what you’re looking for, it will be easier to plan your search and get the results you want.
Step 3. Get your dog ready.
Your dog will be much more appealing if he’s clean and healthy. First, take him to the vet for a check up. He’ll need to be up-to-date with his heartworm test, a DHLP and a rabies vaccination. It is likely that your vet will recommend a fecal to ensure that the dog is free from parasites. Be sure to tell the vet about any behavior problems so he can rule out physical causes.
If your dog isn’t spayed or neutered, do it now! Don’t waste your time trying to sell your dog as “breeding stock” even if he’s AKC registered. Frankly, no reputable German Shepherd breeder will want him unless he came from a well known show or sport dog breeder in the first place. The only kind of “breeder” who’ll be interested in your dog will be a puppy miller or a dog broker. Brokers seek out unaltered purebreds for resale to puppy mills or research laboratories. That’s not the kind of future you want for your dog.
Having the dog spayed or neutered is the best way to insure that a family who wants a best friend and family member will adopt your dog. If you can’t afford the cost of surgery, check with your vet, local shelter or rescue group or search the internet for information about low-cost spay and neuterprograms that are available in many parts of the country. You can call the following numbers for low cost spay/neuter referrals and vouchers: 1-800-248-SPAY or 1-800-321-PETS. Having your dog neutered or spayed is the best going away present you can give him. It may save his life! Give your dog a brighter, healthier future – make the appointment today!
If your dog has never been tattooed or microchipped, this is a great time to do it. It’s not unusual for newly adopted dogs to get loose and become lost. A permanent ID will help your dog get back to you or his new owners.
Groom your dog. You want your dog to look beautiful and make a good impression. He needs to be clean and well-dressed! Bathe him, trim his nails and clean his ears. If you can’t do these things yourself, take him to a groomer. Get rid of his old rusty choke chain and buy a nice, new, strong nylon or leather collar and lead.
Set an adoption fee. You can’t expect the new owner to pay the same price for a “used” dog as they would for a brand new puppy. A reasonable range might be between $50-$150, which helps offset your advertising and veterinary costs. A monetary commitment from the adopter shows he can afford food and future vet bills.
Step 4. Advertise!
Word of mouth doesn’t go very far. Don’t be afraid to use classified ads to advertise your dog. Done right, it’s the most effective way to reach the largest number of people. It’s easy to write a good ad that will weed out poor adoption prospects. Internet access is also another helpful tool in advertising.
Do not place a German Shepherd without providing some essential breed information to the new owner(s). You need to understand these dogs in order to find a good home for them. www.GermanShepherds.com has a breed-information page that contains excellent information. Please, take the time to read it so you can, in turn, educate potential adopters.
Your ad should give a short description of your dog, his needs, your requirements for a home and of course, your phone number. The description should include his breed, color, sex, etc. Hints: if your dog is less than 2 years old, state his age in months so he’ll be perceived as the young dog he is. If he’s over three, just say that he’s an “adult.”
Emphasize your dog’s good points: Is he friendly? Housebroken? Crate Trained? Well-mannered? Loves kids? Does he do tricks? Has he had any training? Don’t keep it a secret but don’t exaggerate either. Knowing his name doesn’t make him “well-trained”!
State any definite requirements you might have for his new home: fenced yard, no cats, kids over 10, etc. Try to say these in a positive way – for example, stating “older children recommended” sounds better than “no kids under 10″. If your German Shepherd doesn’t like other pets, say “should be only pet” rather than “doesn’t like other animals.”
Always state that references are required. This tells people that you’re being selective and that you’re not going to give your dog to just anybody. This statement will do a lot to keep people with bad intentions from dialing your number.
Never include the phrase “free to good home” in your ad even if you’re not planning to charge a fee. If possible, don’t put in any reference to a price at all. The chance at a “free” dog will bring lots of calls, but most of them won’t be the kind of people you’re looking for and many of them will be people you’d rather not talk to at all. Take a look here for more information on what can happen to a “free to a good home” animal.
In the local paper, your ad might read:
“German Shepherd: beautiful black & tan, young adult male, neutered. Friendly, housebroken, well-behaved. Best with children over 10. Prefers to be an only dog. Fenced yard, references and home visit required. John 555-1234″
Along with your local newspaper, advertise in all major papers within an hour and a half’s drive. Schedule your ad so that it appears in Sunday’s paper – the issue that’s the most well-read and widely circulated. If your budget is very limited, choose to run your ad only on Sundays rather than throughout the week. Nearly every community also has small, weekly “budget-shopper” newspapers that offer inexpensive classified ads. Take advantage of them!
Don’t be discouraged if your phone isn’t ringing right away. Most people give up too soon. It can take a month or more to find a new home, so plan on advertising for several weeks. Put a phone number in the ad where you can be easily reached or use an answering machine. People can’t call you if no one’s home to answer the phone.
Newspapers are just one way to advertise. Take a good cute photo of your dog and have copies made. Duplicating photos can be done for as little as a quarter each at most photo shops. Make an attractive flyer on colored paper that you can have copied for a few cents each. Attach the cute photo of your dog. Your flyer doesn’t have to be expensive, professional or computerized, just neat and eye-catching. Since you’re not paying for words, you can write more about your dog than you could in a newspaper ad. Be descriptive!
There are many places online to advertise, too, including www.petfinder.org and www.1-800-save-a-pet.com.
Post your flyers at grocery stores, department stores, vets’ offices, pet supply stores, grooming shops, factories, malls, etc. – anywhere you can find a public bulletin board. If you have friends in a nearby city, mail them a supply of flyers and ask them to post them for you
If you still want to go along with the adoption and find a new home for you dog, please take the time to carefully read the following guidelines:
Used with permission. Adapted by German Shepherd Rescue and Adoptions, Inc from “When You Can’t Keep Your Chow Chow” written by Karen Privitello, Lisa Hrico & Barbara Malone, Chow Chow Welfare League of NPD, Inc. Reproduction other than for personal home use is prohibited without permission of the Chow Chow Club, Inc.’s Welfare Committee. For additional copies or permission to reprint, contact: The Chow Chow Club Inc.’s Welfare Committee 9828 E. County A Janesville, WI 53546 Chow Chow Welfare Hotline 608-756-2008