Do You REALLY Have to Give Up Your German Shepherd Dog?


People Problem: “I Can’t Afford My Dog Anymore”

In today’s economy, this has become a common reason that people need to give up their pets. But GSDs do not need to be an added expense if you can learn to balance their expenses. Not all of your GSD’s necessities need to be purchased at the same time and sometimes not even in the same month.

Bottom line, your GSD really needs a collar and leash, rabies vaccination and food. If you can manage these items until your financial situation improves, then there is no need to give up your GSD.

Food. If your situation is such that you cannot afford dog food, vist MSPCA Angell page Massachusetts Pet Food Pantries for a list of pantries in Mass. If you live in another New England State, google Pet Food Pantries for your state. 

Medical. If your GSD has issues that require medical attention, organizations exist nationally and locally that may be able to help financially. Here are a few links that list these organizations:

The Humane Society of the United States posts a comprehensive list of pet financial aid-related organizations. You can search by state. Visit their page "Are You Having Trouble Affording Your Pet?".

Please keep in mind that each organization is independent and has their own set of rules and guidelines. Therefore you will have to investigate each one separately to determine if you qualify for assistance.

People Problem: “We're Moving”

Moving is the most common reason why people give up their pets—but it doesn’t have to be. Affordable rental homes that allow pets are out there if you work to find them and prepare yourself to effectively present your case to a landlord.

1. It may take time. Most people give up too quickly in their search for rental property that accepts pets. Don't be too quick to jump on the first apartment you see. There'll probably be a better one available soon.

2. Widen your search. Most people only look as far as the classified ads. Many landlords list their property through real estate agents or rental associations rather than the classifieds. Take advantage of rental services that help tenants find apartments. Ask friends, relatives, and co-workers to keep an eye open for you. Many apartments are rented via word of mouth before they're ever advertised in the papers.

3. Be open to a different neighborhood. A home that allows pets might be in a different neighborhood than you'd prefer. It might be a few more miles from work. It might not be as luxurious as you'd like. It might cost a few dollars more. These small compromises may allow you to keep your dog.

4. "No Pets" doesn't always mean "No Pets, Period." Many landlords automatically rule out pets because they don't want the hassle. Many of these landlords are pet owners themselves. Just because the ad says "no pets" doesn't mean you shouldn't go see the apartment anyway. During the interview, ask the landlord "Are pets absolutely out of the question?" If the landlord answers, "well...", you have a chance! Hint: You'll have better luck asking this question in-person than over the telephone - it's more difficult for people to say no to your face.

5. Moving in with friends or relatives. In difficult times, people often have to move in with relatives or friends who don't like dogs. This doesn't have to be an impossible situation. Use a dog crate when you're not home or when your family doesn't want your dog underfoot. A portable kennel run can be set up in the yard for exercise and can be sold later when you have your own place and don't need it anymore.

To Encourage Your Landlord to Let You Keep Your Dog...


  • Bring your well-groomed, well-behaved dog to the rental interview. Show the landlord that your dog is well-cared-for and that you're a responsible owner.
  • Bring along an obedience class diploma or Canine Good Citizen certificate if your dog has one. 
  • Offer an additional security deposit or rental amount to be able to have a dog.
  • Bring references from your previous landlords and neighbors.
  • Invite the landlord to see your present home to show him that the dog has not damaged the property nor been a nuisance to the neighbors.
  • Use a dog crate. Landlords are much more receptive to dogs that will be crated when their owners aren't home.

People Problem: “We Don't Have Enough Time for the Dog"

If you got your dog as a puppy he took far more of your time than he does now. Your German Shepherd Dog’s requirements for attention are often less than you think.

Exercise. Morning and evening walks typically should be 30 to 45 minutes. There are several factors that will adjust that number up or down, such as age, size and the overall health of your dog. Mini training sessions as part of the evening walk are good as well; your GSD will view this a play time and will love it. Weekend outings are great!

Hours Spent Alone. Most GSDs will adjust to a working family easily. But long days alone, more than 8 hours, are not good for any dog. A half hour potty run and walk in the middle of the day is enough to break up the day for your GSD.

Training. Most obedience classes run 1 hour long for last 6 to 8 weeks. This initial investment of time will prove invaluable. Only 10 to 15 minutes a day practicing what you learned in class is all it takes to keep your GSD’s mind and body in tune; any longer than that you may lose your dog’s attention. Keep it fun.

Grooming. Depending on his type of coat and where your dog spends his time, a good brushing for about 45 minutes should be enough to keep your dog well groomed.

If you are short on the amount of time needed for the activities listed about, a family member, friend or neighborhood teenager could help out with the walks and breaks and even the mini-training sessions. If you don’t know anyone available, there are many dog walkers and pet sitters around for reasonable prices. You may also consider a doggie daycare once or twice a week for your GSD.

Will getting rid of your German Shepherd Dog really make your life less stressful or free up more of your time? When they look closely at their lives, people often discover that the dog isn't cramping their style as much as they think.

Isn’t this amount of time worth the love and companionship your GSD will give you in return?

People Problem: “Were Having a Baby”

You don’t have to give up your GSD just because a new baby is joining the family. It takes a little time and effort, but your dog is worth it. With the proper training, preparation and supervision, your GSD and your baby will likely become the best of friends for years to come. 

If your baby is on the way or if you bundle of joy has arrived, please read the ASPCA article “Dogs and Babies" to learn steps you can take to help your dog adjust to the new changes ahead. This article will give you tips on making introductions and early interactions between your dog and baby as smooth as possible

People Problem: “My [Sister, Brother, Child…] is Allergic to the Dog

First of all, determine whether you are allergic to your GSD or something else. We’ve had several GSD owners’ contact us prepared to surrender their beloved GSDs and thankfully found it their allergies were not caused but the dog! Be sure before you act.

If you have determined that you are allergic, you can still keep your GSD and feel better at the same time. Read the ASPCA article "Are You Allergic to Your Pet?” to find out what you can do to feel better and live comfortably with your GSD.

Dog Problem: Behavior Issues

If you got your dog as a puppy and he now has a behavior problem you can't live with, you have 4 options:

1. You can continue to live with your dog the way he is.

2. You can get help to correct the problem.

3. You can try to give your problem to someone else.

4. You can have the dog destroyed.

Obviously the first option is out or you wouldn't be reading this web page. You're probably most interested in Option 3—so let's talk frankly about that for a moment.

If you were looking for a dog and could select from all kinds of dogs and puppies, would you deliberately choose one with a behavior problem? No, certainly not - and neither would anyone else. To make your dog desirable to other people, you're going to have to take some action to fix his problems.

We have found that most behavior problems aren't that difficult to solve. For these types of behaviors, we can help you with them if you’re willing to give it a try. It will take some time and effort on your part but with practice and consistency, you can modify the behavior.

For more difficult behaviors, we suggest you consult an experience dog trainer. Some of these behaviors can be modified but know that the dog can only be successful if you, the owner is going to put the work into what the trainer advises for the training protocol.

If you need professional help, our "Trainers and Training" seciton below lists the trainers who volunteer for us evaluating and training our rescue dogs. They are all in the business of helping dogs and their owners and many are credentialed trainers. Some of their training styles and methods differ and that’s ok; your dog may respond better to a particular method. Bottom line, their methods work, their prices are reasonable, and they all have the same goal: training you and your dog to live a happy and safe life together.

Think hard about Option 2 before deciding it won't work for you - because the only option you have left is number 4: Having the dog destroyed. That's the bottom line.

If you, who know and love the dog best, won't give him another chance, why should anyone else?


If your dog is aggressive with people or has ever bitten anyone, you can't, in good conscience, give him to anyone else. Could you live with yourself if that dog hurt another person, especially a child? Can you deal with the lawsuit that could result from it? You stand to lose your home and everything else you own. Lawsuits from dog bites are settling for millions of dollars in damages.

Our society today has zero tolerance for a dog with a bite history, no matter how minor. A dog that has bitten—whether it was his fault—is considered by law to be a dangerous dog. In some states, it's illegal to sell or give away a dog that has a bite incident in his past. No insurance company will cover a family with such a dog.

No matter how much you love your dog, if he has ever bitten anyone, you only have one responsible choice - take him to your veterinarian and have him humanely put to sleep. Don't leave him at a shelter where he might be frightened and confused and put other people at risk. Don't try to place him as a "guard dog" where he might be neglected, abused, or used for dog fighting.

As difficult as it is to face, putting a potentially dangerous, biting dog to sleep is the only safe and responsible thing to do. It's the right thing to do.


This article was adapted with permission from "When You Can't Keep Your Chow Chow" written by Karen Privitello, Lisa Hrico & Barbara Malone. Deb Helfrich and Stephanie Angiulo-Costa adapted it to reflect the characteristics of German Shepherd Dogs.


Trainers and Training

The K9Edge

Stephaie Angiulo-Costa

Dave Benoit

199 Newbury St. Danvers MA 01923


North Boston Dog Training

Mike Harrington - Certified Master Dog Trainer

9 Franklin Street, Peabody, MA 

Baystate Kennel and Training Center

Mike Citro

9 Forms Way, Middleton, MA 01949


Gold Star Dog Training

Deb Helfrich

Stowe, VT 05672

Professional Help

If you need professional help, here is a list of the trainers who volunteer for us evaluating and training our rescue dogs.

They are all in the business of helping dogs and their owners and many are credentialed trainers. Some of their training styles and methods differ and that’s ok; your dog may respond better to a particular method.

Bottom line, their methods work, their prices are reasonable, and they all have the same goal: training you and your dog to live a happy and safe life together. 

Methods that Work

Bottom line, their methods work, their prices are reasonable, and they all have the same goal: training you and your dog to live a happy and safe life together.  

How to Find a Home for Your GSD

Finding a Good Home Takes Time

Not that long ago, you were thrilled to have a GSD of your very own. You never dreamed you'd have to give him up someday. Even if you can't keep him anymore, your dog still depends on you to do what's best for him, just like he depended on you when he was a puppy. Now, more than ever, he needs you to make the right choices for his future.

This section will help you find a new home for your GSD. Again, your dog is your responsibility. He has no one else but you to look out for his interests. It'll take effort, patience, and persistence to find him/her the right home. He deserves your best efforts.

Finding a new home involves several steps. Before you start, there are some important things you should know...

About Animal Shelters

Shelters and humane societies were created to care for stray and abused animals. They weren't meant to be a drop-off for people who don't want their pets anymore. Shelters, on average, take in 100 new animals or more each day. Let's face it - there won't be enough good homes for all of them. Even the best shelters can't boast much more than a 50% adoption rate. Only the youngest, friendliest, cutest, and best-behaved dogs get adopted.

By law, stray pets must be kept several days for their owners to reclaim them. They may not be destroyed until that period is up. However, dogs given up by their owners aren't protected by these laws. They may be destroyed at any time. Shelters don't want to euthanize all these animals, but sometimes they don't have a choice. There just isn't enough room for all of them. Shelters today are so overcrowded that your dog could be euthanized the same day it arrives.

Being purebred GSD doesn’t help your dog's chances of adoption either–in fact, it may be a disadvantage. Because some people are afraid of GSDs, some shelters will not put them up for adoption at all. If your GSD is old, has health problems or a poor attitude toward strangers, his chances of adoption just got lessened even more: to slim to none.

Sending your dog to a shelter in hopes that he will find a good home is wishful thinking. It's more likely that you'll be signing your GSDs death warrant. A shelter is your last resort only after all of your best efforts have failed.

About "No-Kill" Shelters

True "no-kill" shelters are few and far between. Obviously, no one wants to see their pet destroyed, so the demand for no-kill shelter services is high. It’s so high that shelters are forced to turn away many pets because they don't have room for them all. Sometimes they have to choose only the most adoptable dogs to work with—and your GSD may not be one of them.

Breed Rescue Services Like Us

Those of us in Breed Rescue are small, private, shelter-like groups run by volunteers dedicated to a particular breed. Most of us operate out of the volunteer's home. Like no-kill shelters, demand for our services is high, so high that your dog may be turned away for lack of resources. Even if we cannot take your dog in, we can still help you place your dog by providing referrals to persons interested in adopting your dog.

When you are working with breed rescues like us, you'll have the most success if you follow our advice and do all that you can to help find a new home. This includes contacting us WELL in advance of when you need to rehome your dog so that we can work together to have the best chances to find your dog a wonderful new home.  Calling us on August 15thto because you have to move on September 1st doesn’t give any of us enough time to help your dog.

Steps to Help You Rehome Your GSD

Step 1. Call Your Dog's Breeder/Shelter/Rescue

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 your GSD and what will happen to it. If you can't remember the breeder's name, look on your dog's registration papers.

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 shelter. Do not be embarrassed or afraid to call them. They will not judge you. They exist to help dogs and will appreciate the fact that you did call them.

Step 2. 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 GSDs are special dogs for special people. Those special people can be difficult to find. Most people a dog that will greet them with a wagging tail (or at least let them to pat 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 GSD? 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, well-groomed, and healthy. First, take him to the vet for a check-up. He'll need a heartworm test, a DHLLP 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 GSD 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 puppy farmer 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.

Spaying or neutering guarantees that your dog won't end up in a puppy mill. It's the best way to ensure 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 many parts of the country. Having your dog neutered or spayed is the best going away present you can give him.

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.

Step 4. Get the Word Out

The more people who know you are trying to find a home for your GSD, the better.

Enlist the help of your friends. They may know someone looking for a dog just like yours. Having a referral for a potential adopter is also a good thing.

Contact several GSD rescues and all breed rescues. If they cannot take your dog in, they can help by referring potential adopters to you. The mission for GSD rescues is to help GSDs in need; most will not have a problem with you working with several rescues simultaneously to find your GSD a good home.

Talk to your veterinarian. He knows you and your dog and probably has lots of clients and other connections—he may know someone who would be the perfect home for your GSD.


Word of mouth can only go so 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, and your requirements for a home and of course, your phone number. The description should include his breed, color, age, sex, and that he's neutered. Hints about expressing his age: 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 his talents 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 GSD doesn't like other pets, say "should be your 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.

Set a reasonable adoption fee. The key word is "reasonable". You can't expect the new owner to pay anywhere near what you paid. A reasonable range might be between $65-150, enough to help offset your advertising and veterinary costs.

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.  People value what they pay for!  Free animals have been used for bait in fighting rings. Also, there are those who gather free pets until they have enough for a trip to a Class B Dealer who is licensed by the USDA to sell to sell animals from "random sources" for research.  Putting even a modest adoption fee on your dog may keep him out of these horrible situations.

Your ad should look something like this:

"German Shepherd Dog: beautiful, young adult red male, neutered. Friendly, housebroken, well-behaved. Best with children over 10. Fenced yard, references required. Karen 555-1234"

Along with your local newspaper, advertise  nearly every community also has small, weekly "budget-shopper" newspapers that offer inexpensive classified ads. Take advantage of them! 

Do not advertise on Craigslist! Many pet dogs wound up as bait dogs in dog fighting rings. 

Newspapers are just one way to advertise.  Use social media such as Facebook but be prepared to screen carefully. 

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!

Post your flyers at grocery stores, department stores, post offices, 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.

Don't be discouraged if your phone doesn’t ring right away. Most people give up too soon. Plan on advertising for several weeks in order to maximize the chances that the right person for your dog sees your ad! 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.

Step 6. Interviewing Callers.

"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, his or her plan to get a dog? If not, suggest he or she talk it over with the family 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 children, 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 GSDs, 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. There may be some concerning reasons behind this kind of pattern of dog ownership.

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 is  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 also an important consideration. GSDs seldom get along with another large dog of the same sex. Dog fights can be serious, and can result in serious injury and death for the dogs involved, not to mention injuries for the humans nearby.  We recommend that you don't put your GSD 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? How will they satisfy the dog’s exercise requirements? 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 know that keeping a GSD tied up can negatively impact the dog's temperament?

Where will the dog spend most of its time? Although most GSDs love to be outside whenever they can, a whole life outdoors probably isn't what you have in mind for your dog. Dogs always kept outside are sometimes neglected, lonely, and may develop behavior problems.

Why is the caller interested in a GSD? What do they like about them? Find out what kind of dog "personality" they're looking for. Many people are attracted by the GSD’s beauty but don't know anything else about them. They might not have the slightest idea what a GSD is all about and might not like its temperament and characteristics. If their expectations don't match your dog's disposition, the adoption won’t work. Be honest about our breed's good and challenging points. Is a GSD 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?

Step 7: 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 are different from what you were told. Trust your gut; if you get a bad feeling, there’s probably a good reason why.

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 about anew dog,  but if the children are undisciplined and disrespectful to your dog, and the parents do not set limits and guidelines for how the children should treat a pet,  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!  If your gut tells you something’s not right, you don’t need any other justification to call off an adoption.

Step 8. Saying Goodbye

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, and phone number of your vet.
  • Your name, address, and phone (new address if you're moving).
  • Your dog's toys and belongings (dog bed, blanket, etc.), a supply of dog food, and special treats he loves.
  • An instruction sheet on feeding, special needs, etc.; include some reading material about the German Shepherd breed.
  • Collar and leash; ID and rabies tags.
  • A list of commands your dog knows.
  • Any descriptions of things your dog is afraid of or is not comfortable with (for example, motorcycles, the vet’s office, men with large hats!)
  • A list of things your dog loves (games, a special place to be scratched)—this will help the new family find ways to bond with your dog.
  • A description of the daily routine he had with you (when he ate, relieved himself, where he slept, what sort of exercise he got, etc.) , to help them understand what may be really new to him and/or try to maintain some of his former routine to ease the adjustment.

Set aside a special time for you and your dog to take a last walk together and say goodbye. You may cry and find yourself very emotional. 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.

Caution the new family about the adjustment period your GSD may need: Your dog will go through an adjustment period as he gets to know his new people, learns new rules, and mourns the loss of his previous 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, going to 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. You may want to let the new family know that they can call you if they have any questions about your dog or need advice on how to make his transition as easy as possible.

Step 9. Paperwork

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—and in reaction to his new home and how he may experience life there. 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.


This article was adapted with permission from "When You Can't Keep Your Chow Chow" written by Karen Privitello, Lisa Hrico & Barbara Malone. Deb Helfrich and Stephanie Costa adapted it to reflect the characteristics of German Shepherd Dogs.



Top 5 Intake FAqs


1) I can’t keep my dog. When can you pick it up?

GSR&RC, like many rescues, is volunteer run and does not have a physical location. We house our dogs in carefully screened foster homes and are unable to accept “walk ins” off the street. We highly recommend that you start looking for resources for your dog when you first suspect that you may have no choice but to rehome it.

2) How long until you can accept my dog?

That’s entirely dependent on your dog, our available resources and the current demand for foster homes. The wait can be weeks, months, or in some cases we might not ever be able to accept your dog into a foster home. 

Most foster homes are animal lovers and already own pets. So, if your dog is unable to reside with other animals it will be extremely difficult to find a place for it in a foster home. This does NOT mean that we can’t offer assistance to dogs who are waiting for foster homes or are unable to reside in our open foster homes. Our Placement Assistance program allows us to search for a new home for your dog while it remains in your possession. You can learn more about our various programs here. 

3) What is the application process for the various Intake Programs and how long do they take?

The process for dogs looking to be surrendered or applying for placement assistance is the same. Our intake profile must be fully completed and returned with 2 photos of the dog and your pets complete medical record. This is not just a copy of your dog’s last shots, but the office notes from each vet that cared for your dog. We may also call the vet to clarify any questions we may have. 

Acceptance into a GSR&RC is NOT affected by the dog's health, but we feel strongly that adopters should know the dogs medical history up-front.   

The intake coordinator may contact you with questions about the application before arranging a behavior evaluation by one of our trainers. After you bring your dog to the evaluation we will review all the information and determine what resources we have available to offer.

The completion of your application is mainly dependent on the speed you submit them and how quickly your dog can be evaluated.

4) My dog bit me/a child/another animal etc. Can GSR&RC still help?

More often than not bites are a product of handler error and not an unsafe flaw in the dogs temperament. GSR&RC will not refuse to assist a dog because it was set up to fail by no fault of its own. 

We will take each bite by a case by case basis and determine if the dog is safe to be placed in a new home. We will also ensure that any interested adopters are fully aware of the dog’s history in an attempt to prevent future incidents.

5) My dog must be “gone” in the next 3 days! What do I do?

Unfortunately, there is NO way to find placement with this (or just about any) rescue in a short time period. This is why we HIGHLY recommend that you start searching for resources as soon as you suspect you may have no choice but to rehome your dog. Please read out section How to Find a Home for your GSD.

At this point our best advice is to ask family and friends for help, look into boarding, contact as many rescues as you can. Don’t just send one email at 3am. Make calls, follow up on emails, put in the effort!

Ask rescues, local animal control officers to make courtesy posts on social media for your dog. Put flyers up in the post office, stores, etc. The flyers should be concise and honestly describe your pet and their needs (no kids, no cats etc.) If you do get interest in your dog screen the homes. Ask questions and do a home check. You do not want to hand your dog off to someone who may have malicious intent.

All else fails, call around for local animals shelters and check on their surrender and euthanasia policy. Some high traffic shelters may euthanize in a week or less. This is obviously not where you should bring your dog. 

Let just take a moment to point out again that this situation can be avoided by starting to search for resources ASAP. Your pet is depending on you to ensure their future, don’t put it off because it makes you sad, or it’s unpleasant. The potential consequences are significantly more miserable for your dog the longer you wait.

GSR&RC Intake Programs


Placement Assistance

Are you a GSD owner who cannot keep your GSD? We can help you place your dog.

The goal of this program is to assist GSD owners who reside in New England and need to rehome their dogs but do not want to surrender them to a rescue or bring them to a shelter. These owners are willing to foster their own dogs until a suitable new home is found. GSR&RC will assist owners by screening applicants, performing home checks and evaluating their dog for health and temperament when possible.

German Shepherd Dogs are a family-oriented breed, and do not fare well in shelters or kennels. They get stressed easily and quickly and their behavior can deteriorate very rapidly, making them harder for shelters to place due to what is perceived to be behavior issues. They can develop unwanted and undesirable habits while in a shelter environment and their true nature can be hard for even experienced evaluators to determine because they are so stressed. We believe it is a far better practice to keep them out of shelters whenever possible and keep them in homes.

Guidelines for Owners

  • An application that includes a profile about your dog must be completed (refer to the box on the left). This includes any known health and behavior issues, medical records and proof of vaccinations.
  • Any dog that we agree to help re-home must be spayed or neutered. Exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis. 
  • All dogs must be current on vaccinations.
  • Owners must be willing to work with GSR&RC to screen applicants, schedule meetings with potential adopters and be available for potential adopters who may want to speak directly with them.
  • All known health or behavior issues must be fully disclosed.
  • Owners must agree to take their dog back within a 2-week period if an adoption is not successful. If this is not possible, the owner is responsible for making arrangements for housing of the dog, at their expense, until we can find another adopter.
  • Owner must provide adopter with initial supply of food, medications if needed, crate, toys, beds and whatever supplies they have for their dog;
  • The suggested donation for this service is $100.00, 

Guidelines for Adopters

  • Adopters must agree to allow GSR&RC to share their application, home check results and contact information with owners.
  • Adopter must agree to return the dog to the owner if the adoption is not successful within the 2-week trial period. If at any time in the future, the adopter is not able to keep the dog, they must agree to contact GSR&RC.
  • Adopters must acknowledge that dogs in our Placement Assistance Program may not have been evaluated by one of our volunteers.
  • Adoption Donation is half the donation of our Rehome Program. 

Rescue Partners

Are you a shelter, Animal Control Officer or other animal welfare organization in New England that has a German Shepherd Dog up for adoption? We can help you place that dog! Join the German Shepherd Resource and Rescue Center Rescue Partner Program.

What is the GSRRC Rescue Partner Program?

The GSR&RC Rescue Partner Program assists New England animal welfare organizations in the following ways:

  • GSR&RC Rescue Partners contact us when they have a German Shepherd Dog at their facility. If we have room for the GSD, we will start our evaluation process for possible intake.
  • If we do not have room, we will assist our Rescue Partner by using our resources to promote the GSD in their facility to increase their chance of finding a suitable home. We will post the GSD on our website, list the GSD in our newsletters and other supporting promotional materials, and inform our network of members and volunteers of the GSD in need of a home.
  • We will also publicize any fundraising events, activities and any current material needs of our Rescue Partner.

Who participates in the GSR&RC Rescue Partner Program?

Shelters (private and municipal), Animal Control Officers, rescues and other animal welfare organizations in New England are all welcome to become a GSR&RC Rescue Partner.

How does the GSRRC Rescue Partner Program Work?

  1. When the Rescue Partner has a GSD in its care, the Rescue Partner contacts their GSR&RC through their assigned GSRRC Rescue Partner Liaison.
  2. The Liaison gathers all the pertinent information about the GSD and submits it to the GSR&RC Rehome Committee.
  3. If we have a place to take in the GSD, the Rehome will start our evaluation process for possible intake of the GSD.
  4. If we cannot take the GSD, we will do whatever we can to assist our Placement Partner in placing that dog. This includes but is not limited to posting the GSD on our website, sending volunteers to the organization to help with the GSD, refer parties interested in adopting that GSD directly to our Partner.
  5. The Liaison maintains contact with the Rescue Partner (frequency of contact depends what the liaison and the partner have established) to obtain updates on the status of the GSD until s/he has been adopted.

The Rescue Partner also contacts their Liaison when they are hosting an event (a fundraiser, open house, etc.) or they have a specific need. The Liaison will gather details about the event and forward it to the Center’s communications group. We will use our resources and networks to publicize the activity or need to gain as much exposure as possible for our Partner.

How does an organization become a GSRRC Rescue Partner?

  1. The organization contacts GSR&RC or GSR&RC contacts the organization.
  2. A GSR&RC volunteer explains the program in detail and answers any questions they may have.
  3. The organization completes an information questionnaire about their facility.
  4. If the organization agrees to partner with us, we add the organization to our Rescue Partner network and we assign a volunteer to be the liaison between GSR&RC and the new Placement Partner organization.

Why Do We Do It?

It’s all about the dogs. If we help find a forever home for a German Shepherd Dog, then we’re happy! Doesn’t matter where the dog came from or who placed it, bottom line is that we helped give a GSD a second chance.

GSR&RC Intake Process

Surrendering Your GSD

Before you proceed, please read the full content of our section "Do You Really Have to Give Up Your GSD?". The material on this page is meant to help you think through all of your options so that you can make the most informed decision possible. Please take the time to read through it before you contact us.

If you have read all our material on these pages and tried all our suggestions, and still want to apply to surrender your GSD to us, we require that you complete an owner surrender application. That being said, it is important to realize that our funds and resources are limited, and as a small organization we need to work together to have the best chances to find your GSD a wonderful new home. Even though you are applying to surrender your GSD to us, continue to look for a good home for your GSD on your own. Please go to our "How to Find a Home for your GSD"  for information that will help you find a good home for your GSD.

We will do our best to help you but understand we always have a list of GSDs waiting to get into our Rehome Program. We ask for your help, understanding and patience.

Before applying to surrender, know the following:

  1. You must be a resident of New England. If you do not reside in New England, visit the American German Shepherd Rescue Association ( for a list of German Shepherd Rescues in your state or region.
  2. All owners of the dog must be in agreement about the decision to surrender.
  3. An application is required to start the surrender process; there is no fee to apply.
  4. Submission of an application does not guarantee the acceptance of your dog into our Rehome program.
  5. You will need to supply copies of the dog's medical records.
  6. You will need to supply two pictures of your dog, preferably a front and side view.
  7. The speed at which your application is processed for surrender is dependent largely on how thoroughly and specifically you answer each question. Please do not leave any applicable question blank. Please include a detailed explanation for any question where you are asked to elaborate an answer.
  8. Any misrepresentation of fact will be cause for denial of acceptance into our Rehome program.
  9. If your application is accepted, your GSD must pass an evaluation. Arrangements will be made to have your dog evaluated by one of our trained evaluators. You may have to take your dog to the evaluation location.

When you apply please keep in mind that we are an all volunteer organization. Most of us have full time day jobs. We try to work as quickly as we can and ask for your understanding and patience.

We do not yet have a physical location where all of our dogs are housed. We are made up of a network of private foster homes and at times we utilize boarding. We never have enough foster homes and the ones we have are almost always filled.

We try to respond to every email as soon as possible.


Applying for Intake

When you apply please keep in mind that we are an all volunteer organization. We do not have a physical location where all of our dogs are housed. We are made up of a network of private foster homes and at times we utilize boarding. We never have enough foster homes and the ones we have are almost always filled.

We ask for your patience and understanding.

If we can help you, our Intake Coordinator will email you an Intake Application. Please print it out, complete it and you must sign it. If you don't understand something or have any questions, email us and we will help you.  

Return the application to us by any of the following methods:





U.S. Mail

German Shepherd Resource & Rescue Center, Inc.

P.O. Box 210

Nahant, MA 01908

Attn. Intake Coordinator

German Shepherd Resource & Rescue Center, Inc.