Need to rehome a challenging dog--need suggestions
January 5, 2019 6:17 AM   Subscribe

I have volunteered to help rehome a dog before a move in June. The dog is a huge pit-bull mix and barely trained. Hope me.

This is an emotional situation because a family member with special needs is very attached to the dog. I've had nothing to do with the dog until now--but the family member is going to move in with us in June, the dog needs to be rehomed by that time, and I am now putting my nose in.

Here's the deal: The dog looks like somebody put the body of a pit bull on the frame of a whippet, because that's what the dog is, a pit-bull whippet mix. I'm in a wheelchair so I'm not the best to judge, but I can say that dog totally owned me in a very friendly way, and there was no way I could handle him on my own. Because the dog is barely trained, he is a potential threat to other animals, especially cats. Because he is so big he is hard to control--I have seen him get away from my able-bodied partner. He can't be tethered for some unknown reason. He's a very sweet dog, and he'd be a wonderful companion for a strong, able-bodied person who has no other animals and has spare time to bond with the dog, because the dog is very human-oriented and hates to be left alone.

We're sort of Main Line Philadelphia. Ideally the dog would be adopted by a neighbor so that the family member could visit the dog. Ideally. I am thinking that is wildly unrealistic, given our environs and the size and nature of the dog. A dog that is huge, barely trained, and is desperate to be around people, and the family member is really invested in the dog finding a suitable placement. A big challenge.

Anyway, what I have volunteered to do is to cast a net as wide as possible in an effort to find possible candidates to rehome the dog. The person who has been working on this problem until now has said that most places that try to rehome dogs work with dogs in shelters, which makes sense. I haven't made any calls yet to such organizations, so I don't know first-hand that this is a non-starter but will investigate beginning with the SPCA.

Any other ideas? I can think of a twitter campaign to my measly lot of followers, a craigslist ad, a plea to my limited group of facebook friends, but I would love other suggestions.

posted by angrycat to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Minor correction: the dog can but hates to be tethered. He's strong enough to pull a stake out of the ground, and if he's not stronger than the thing, he chokes himself trying to get away. Family member B, the person managing the situation until now, claims the dog can't be tethered because of the above.
posted by angrycat at 6:28 AM on January 5, 2019

The lady who cares for my dog when I travel also rehomes dogs. She is awesome, and houses the dogs until they find their forever homes for a small fee. Can you find a similar person/place near you?
posted by mumimor at 7:08 AM on January 5, 2019

There is time to get in quite a lot of training with this dog between now and June if that is any kind of option. If that is an option at all I would look for deals on training. There may be a local trainer willing to give a deep discount due to your circumstances.

Call your county level shelter and get names of well known rescues. Look at facebook and petfinder. (The shelter can likely also give you trainer names. I am not at all judging you about rehoming this dog...I just realized there's months between now and June and if the dog is a people pleaser then it's probably trainable.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:11 AM on January 5, 2019

In my neighborhood social media groups people rehome dogs all of the time.
Be honest and say you don't know how he is with other pets and children.
Also Google around for pit rescue and your area.
posted by k8t at 7:24 AM on January 5, 2019

The dog sounds untrained, not "challenging". Challenging is when they are agressive, reactive or have other serious behavior problems. Untrained is easy to fix with training.

However, based on the specifics of your question, I think you should rehome this dog. Your family member doesn't seem to be in a position to provide the animal a consistent home with structure and training. You and your partner do not seem to want to commit to this dog either (which is ok!). But this dog deserves a wonderful, committed forever home.

Do not try to place the dog yourself. Contact a few local rescue groups and explain the situation to them. Work with them, and your family member to find a good forever home for the animal. Trying to give them away to a neighbor or someone on Craigslist is how animals end up being euthanized in overcrowded shelters. You are lucky because you have some time to sort this all out before June. Good luck and just Google dog rescue groups in your area.
posted by KMoney at 8:02 AM on January 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

It definitely sounds like a challenge to you, but my first recommendation is to please not label this dog ‘challenging’. Unless there is something you are not telling us, it just sounds like he is a large untrained dog, and no one around him has spent any time training him or has had any dog experience. That he loves people is great! That tends to make a dog more trainable. Also, the whippet/pit bull combination makes for a good story, which can help gain people’s interest. The above advice is great, so to add to it, also focus on taking pictures of him being cute, funny, full of personality, maybe a video of him being all kissy-face, etc. The more wonderful stuff you have to help a rescue rehome him, the easier it will be. The more you tell his story, the easier it will be for him to find the right home.

As to your ideal. Start with friends and family. And ask them to spread the word (after great pictures and video, so they have something to share). Most of my home-finding for rescued animals have been through FB in the last 8-10 years. Go ahead and post a cute antic once a week or so. Add something you have learned about him, something he did, etc.

Also, it’s great you are starting now. You can make doubly sure it’s a good fit.

Lastly, for now, make sure he is getting enough exercise to be tired. It will be easier to handle him. A dog park can be great for socialization skills and also for potential adopters and connections.
posted by MountainDaisy at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

The dog can be taught to tolerate tethering with a good harness instead of collar, and a strong line, ideally a run where the dog can walk a little. 5 minutes at a time, then 10 minutes, etc, and better if the dog has already had exercise.

Find training classes, go. If the dog is safe with other dogs, go to a dog park for exercise, every day of you can, even twice a day. Muscular dogs need exercise, lots of it, and tired dogs are much easier to manage. Keep a very regular schedule and be super-consistent; an untrained will really benefit from this.

A healthy dog that's had training is adoptable. A vet or trainer may be able to help.
posted by theora55 at 9:19 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Do you have the financial resources to hire a good trainer? Can you find him a big crate? It does need to be done right to find a good owner--the dog must be cleaned and shined up, have a nice collar, and then video taped in a training session showing his progress in order to appeal the type of owner that will do the dog justice.
If you can get him 'civilized' and working to be a good citizen, you could recoup (some) of your expenditures with a re-homing fee. I'm all in favor of a re-homing fee for a dog or cat. I don't think you should necessarily be making money on an animal you re-homing, but placing a value on an animal sometimes generates worth in the eyes of the owner.
Having spent plenty of my own money on rehabbing more critters then I can remember, I think it's only fair that I can recoup, and then I can blow the bucks on finding another poor fuzzy soul that just needs a break.
You might be able to find a good trainer that will be willing to give you a break on the training fee and help you with re-homing contacts.
It's a good deed.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:51 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's a couple routes you could go here, but they both involve training. That's the missing piece for this dog. Either someone trains it now while it is still in its current home in preparation for being a much easier prospect to find a home for later, or you find someone who can take the dog out of its current home to train and foster and adopt out on their own terms. The latter is going to be a harder task, only because people who are qualified and willing to do this are thinner on the ground than families who just want a dog. But I agree, do not label this dog as "challenging". It is a very normal, friendly, typical untrained dog. I worked with a billion of those when I used to volunteer for the local animal shelter. While its current lack of training is challenging for you, an experienced dog handler will not have a problem with it.

If he can be trained to walk on a lead, sit, down, and come, and be comfortable in a crate, that is an adoptable dog suitable for most homes. An experienced trainer could accomplish this in a matter of weeks.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:13 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

He sounds like a friendly dog, so I'd aim for a situation that doesn't even require him to be tethered. Could the current family work on crate training to start? That is a huge plus that people look for in a dog. I agree with others that a local rescue group who can foster and train him could be the best situation if the current family can't work on the training themselves. Some rescue groups could even be sympathetic about the situation and provide the adopters with your family member's contact info to stay in touch.
posted by Katie8709 at 3:23 PM on January 5, 2019

Philly Unleashed has a boarding and training service now (below the farm camp option). Obviously this would only work if you can throw money at the problem (and no judgement if not). If so it would likely also make the dog more attractive to adopters.
posted by sepviva at 8:15 PM on January 5, 2019

THANK YOU EVERYBODY this was very encouraging and much needed as (it might be clear) I don't really understand doggos. He is a very good boy and I have a lot of hope we can get him a very good forever home.

posted by angrycat at 2:34 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

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