Steps to Successful Rehoming of your Beagle
Evaluate your dog’s adoption potential.
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 Beagles are special dogs for special people. Those special people can be hard to find. Most people interested in Beagles today have never had one before. They want a dog that will greet them with a wagging tail or will at least allow them to pet him. 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 Beagle? 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.
Get your dog ready
Your dog will be much more appealing if he’s clean, well-groomed and healthy. First, take him to the vet for a check up. He’ll need a heartworm test, a DHLP and a rabies vaccination if he hasn’t one within the last 6 months. 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 Beagle breeder will want him unless he came from a well known show dog fancier in the first place. The only kind of “breeder” who’ll be interested in your dog will be a puppyfarmer or a dog broker. Brokers seek out unaltered purebreds for resale to puppymills or research laboratories. That’s not the kind of future you want for your dog.
Spaying or neutering guarantees that your dog won’t end up in a puppymill. It’s the best way to insure that your dog will be adopted by a family who wants him only as a best friend and member of the family. If you can’t afford the cost of surgery, check with your vet, local shelter or rescue group for information about low-cost spay and neuter programs that are available in some parts of the country. 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 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! Get rid of those mats and tangles and give him a bath. Make sure he’s neatly trimmed. 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 collar and lead.
Set a reasonable adoption fee. The key word is “reasonable”. You can’t expect the new owner to pay you anywhere near the same price for a “used” dog as they would for a shiny new puppy. A reasonable range might be between $65-150, enough to help offset your advertising and veterinary costs.
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 right away.
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, the fact that he’s neutered and an indication of his age. 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? 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, whatever. Try to say these in a positive way – for example, saying “Kids over 10” sounds better than “No kids under 10”. If your Chow 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.
Your ad should look something like this:
“Beagles: beautiful, young adult tri-colored male, neutered. Friendly, housebroken, well-behaved. Best with children over 10. Fenced yard, references required. Karen 555-1234”
Posting on Facebook or other social media/on-line methods is a great way to market your dog. We cannot stress enough how important screening is, however! 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.
Another method is to take a good cute photo of your dog and create a flyer. Try posting it at your local pet supply store. Pet lovers are their target market. Post your flyers at grocery stores, department stores, vets’ offices, 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.
“First come, first served” does not apply here. You are under no obligation to give your dog to the first person who says he wants it. You have every right to ask questions and choose the person you think will make the best new owner. Don’t let anyone rush you or intimidate you.
To help you along, we’ve included a list of questions that we ask our callers. Make copies of this list and fill in their answers as you speak to your callers. If you like, you can also mail the application for your callers to fill out and return to you. Get out the list you made with your requirements for a new home and compare it to the answers the callers give.
First of all, get your caller’s name, address and phone number. Deceitful people may call you from a phone booth or give you a fake address. Ask for information that you can verify.
Does the caller’s family know about and approve of their plans to get a dog? If not, suggest they talk it over with their spouse and call you back. The same applies to people living with a companion or roommate. When one person adopts a dog without the full approval of the rest of the family, the adoption often fails.
Do they own or rent their home? If renting, does their landlord approve? You’d be surprised how many people haven’t checked with their landlord before calling you. If you have doubts, ask for the landlord’s name and number, then call him yourself. Be cautious about renters – they’re quicker to move than people who own their homes and movers often leave their pets behind. Remember, you’re looking for a permanent home for your dog.
Does the caller have children? How many and how old are they? If your dog isn’t good with kids, say so up front. How many children can make a difference depending on your dog’s personality. A shy dog may not be able to cope with several children and their friends. Very young children may not be old enough to treat the dog properly. If the callers don’t have children, ask them if they’re thinking of having any in the near future. Many people get rid of their dogs when they start a family.
Have they had dogs, especially Chows, before? If yes, how long did they keep them? These are very important questions! How they treated the pets they’ve had in the past will tell you how they might treat your dog. The following answers should raise a red flag and make you suspicious:
“We gave him away when we moved.” Unless they had to because of unavoidable problems, moving is a poor excuse for giving up a pet. Almost everyone can find a place that will allow dogs if they try hard enough. If they gave up their last dog that easily, there’s a good chance they’ll give yours up someday, too.
“We gave him away because he had behavior problems.” Most behavior problems – poor housebreaking, chewing, barking, digging, running away – result from a lack of training and attention. If the caller wasn’t willing to solve the problems he had with his last dog, he probably won’t try very hard with your dog either.
“Oh, we’ve had lots of dogs!” Watch out for people who’ve had several different dogs in just a few years’ time. They may never kept any of them for very long.
Do they have pets now? What kinds? Obviously, if your dog isn’t good with cats or other animals and your caller has them, the adoption’s not going to work out. Be up front. Better to turn people away now than have to take the dog back later. The sex of their other dogs is an important consideration. Chows seldom get along with another large dog of the same sex. Dog fights can be serious problems and one dog can hurt or even kill the other. We recommend that you don’t put your Chow into a home with a dog of the same sex unless you’re absolutely sure they’ll like each other.
Do they have a yard? Is it fenced? Your dog will need daily exercise. Without a yard, how will he get it? Can the caller provide it with regular walks? If the yard isn’t fenced, ask how he plans to keep the dog from leaving his property? Did the caller’s last dog wander off or get hit by a car? If so, how will he keep this from happening to his next dog? Does he understand that our independent Chows will wander off if left unsupervised? That they have a mind of their own and don’t like to come when they’re called? Does he know that keeping a dog tied up can have a bad effect on the dog’s temperament?
Where will the dog spend most of its time? Although most Beagles love to be inside with the rest of the family. Dogs always kept outside are sometimes neglected, lonely and may develop behavior problems.
Why is the caller interested in a Beagle? What do they like about them? Find out what kind of dog “personality” they’re looking for. Many people are attracted by the Beagle’s beauty but don’t know anything else about them. They might not have the slightest idea what a Beagle is all about and might not like its temperament and characteristics. If their expectations don’t match your dog’s disposition, the adoption’s not going to work. Be honest about our breed’s good and bad points. Is a Beagle really what they’re looking for or would they do better with another breed?
References: Get the phone number of their vet (if they’ve had pets before) and two other personal references. Call those references! Explain that John Doe is interested in adopting your dog and you want to make sure he’ll give it a good home. Ask the vet whether former pets were given regular medical care, annual vaccinations and heartworm preventative. Were they in good condition and well-groomed? How long have they known this person? If they were placing a pet, would they feel comfortable giving it to this person?
The In-Person Interview
Once you’ve chosen a family (or families) that you feel are good candidates, make an appointment for them to see the dog. You should actually set two appointments: one at your house and one at theirs. Going to their house lets you see whether their home and yard are truly what they said they are and whether your dog will do well there. It also gives you an opportunity to call off the adoption and take the dog back home with you if things aren’t as represented, if you think there’ll be problems or if you just get a bad feeling about the whole thing.
If they already have a dog, make plans to introduce the dogs on “neutral” territory, like a park. Most dogs resent meeting a strange dog at home. They may be hostile toward the new dog or even start a fight.
If the family has children, ask them to bring them to the interview. You need to see how the dog will react to them and how the children treat the dog. Some allowance should be made for kids’ natural enthusiasm but if these children are undisciplined, disrespectful to your dog and not kept in hand by their parents, your dog could be mistreated in its new home and someone could get bitten.
Do you like these people? Are you comfortable having them as guests in your home? Would they make good friends? If not, don’t give them your dog. Trust your instincts. If something about them doesn’t seem quite right, even if you can’t explain what it is, don’t take a chance on your dog’s future. Wait for another family!
After the interviews are over, give the new family a day or two to decide if they really want to adopt your dog. Make sure they have a chance to think over the commitment they’re making. While they’re deciding, get a package ready to send along with your dog. This package should include:
- ~your dog’s medical records and the name, address & phone number of your vet.
- ~your name, address & phone (new address if you’re moving)
- ~your dog’s toys and belongings (dog bed, blanket, etc.), a supply of dog food & special treats he loves
- ~an instruction sheet on feeding, special needs, etc.; some reading material about the Chow Chow breed.
- ~collar and leash; ID and rabies tags
Set aside a special time for you and your dog to take a last walk together and say goodbye. We know you’ll cry. Do it now, in private, so you’re clear headed when he has to leave. He may be confused about being left with strangers and you won’t want your emotions to upset him even more.
There are some things you need to explain to the new family before they take your dog home: The dog will go through an adjustment period as he gets to know his new people, learns new rules and mourns the loss of his old family. Most dogs adjust within a few days, but others may take longer. During this time, they should avoid forcing the dog to do anything stressful – taking a bath, obedience training classes, meeting too many strangers at once, etc. – until he’s had a chance to settle in. Tell them take things easy at first and give the dog time to bond to them. The dog might not eat for the first day or two. Not to worry – he’ll eat when he’s ready. Some dogs temporarily forget their training. A well-housebroken dog may have an accident during the first day in his new home. This isn’t unusual and rarely happens more than once.
Have the new owner sign an adoption contract with a waiver of liability. We’ve included a sample contract you can use. Keep a copy for your records. A contract will help to protect the dog and the waiver of liability helps to protect you. You don’t have a crystal ball to predict what your dog might do in the future. Remember – a waiver of liability will not protect you if you have lied or misrepresented the dog to his new owners.
Tell the family they should call you if the adoption doesn’t work out. Let them know you want to keep in touch and will call them in a few days to see how things are going. Tell them to call you if they have questions or problems. Be willing to take the dog back home if things don’t work out the way you both expected.