Do Dogs Get Sad Changing Owners Or Being Rehomed?

Your dog was indeed your best friend, and although you thought you wouldn’t part until your dog left this earth, you’ve had to rehome your pet. Will your dog miss you as they adjust to their new owner and home, or will they be alright?

Dogs are aware of the bonds they share with their favorite people and can feel sad when those bonds are taken away. However, this isn’t to the same extent as complex human emotions of loss and grieving.

In today’s article, we’ll explain how a dog feels when rehomed, how long a dog may miss its owner, and whether it’s a good idea for you, as the former owner, to visit your dog and see how they’re doing.

dog and owner being affectionate
Sad dog?

Do Dogs Grieve Or Miss Their Original Owner?

Dogs are separated from their people every single day when you have to go to work or school. You always come back though. What happens if you don’t come back again and your dog is shipped off to a new home?

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs are indeed capable of grieving, such as when you rehome them or if you happen to die before your dog does.

Dogs might not experience emotions nearly as complex as we humans do, but canines are anything but stupid. They can tell when someone has not been around for a while.

Wait, does that mean that dogs understand the passage of time? A Science Focus article suggests that dogs have at least a loose grasp of how time works but do not understand time as a concept.

Your dog knows that you haven’t been back in a long time but couldn’t tell you if it was weeks, months, or years like we people can. Even if the dog somehow could grasp time to that degree, we would never know it since dogs can’t talk the same way we can.

All this is to say that yes, your dog will know that you haven’t been home in a bit once you rehome them. They can experience grief and miss you as well. 

Does Rehoming Affect Dogs?

Grief aside, will your dog be able to seamlessly adjust to their new home or is the adjustment going to be full of fits and spurts?

It’s the latter for certain. Here’s why.

Moving Is Stressful On Dogs As It Is

If you’ve ever moved house with your dog in tow, then you know it’s not a dog’s favorite activity by far.

They’re going to wonder what’s going on as you begin packing up your life in boxes. The territoriality of dogs also makes the transition difficult. Their old house was theirs in many ways, and this new one isn’t.

Of course, your dog will adjust given time, but you have to be patient.

It’s Even Worse When Moving From An Environment The Dog Was Happy In

When a dog loved its old owner and old home, getting them used to a new environment is even more of an uphill battle.

Fortunately, you can do a lot to help your dog during this tough time.

Prepare a corner for the dog that’s away from the rest of the household hubbub. The dog will appreciate this nice, quiet spot.

Using items that the dog already knows such as their old food and water dishes (or ones that look very similar) and their toys, beds, and blankets gives the dog a sense of familiarity to anchor themselves to.

The items smell like their old home and possibly even their old owner, which is comforting to a pup.

The Dog Isn’t Used To Its New Owner Or Family 

The last factor that makes a transition to a new home difficult for a dog is that they don’t yet know the people they’re living with.

How long it will take a dog to adjust depends on its age.

Puppies don’t have as much time to bond with their previous owner, and thus should be ready just about instantly to create new bonds with new people.

For older dogs with years of time in a different house, give them at least several days but possibly up to several weeks to feel more comfortable.

Symptoms Of A Dog Missing Their Owner

If you’ve adopted a dog from a previous owner, you may be concerned that the dog misses its former person. What are some signs to be on the lookout for?

Their Personality Is Not As Described

The old owner told you what to expect out of this dog’s personality, and so far, you’ve seen none of those beloved traits.

It could be that your new dog is still adjusting to its surroundings or that it’s missing its owner. The good news is that as they spend more time with you, the dog’s true personality should eventually come out.

They’re Lethargic Or Depressed

A sad dog waiting for his owner.
A sad dog waiting for his owner.

Does your new dog not want to do much except sit or lie around and sleep? Do they seem depressed?

These are two trademark reactions to moving, but it could also be that your dog is feeling a little lonely for their old owner.

Once again, the only treatment is time. Your dog will come around and should perk up. However, if several weeks pass and they’re still lethargic, you might want to take your dog to a vet, as something else could be going on.

They Don’t Eat Much

It’s also a sign of your dog missing its old owner if they don’t quite have the voracious appetite that was originally advertised to you.

Keep an eye on the dog’s eating in the days and weeks to come. Once again, you should see a vet if your dog hasn’t begun eating more regularly within about a month.

They Don’t Want To Spend Much Time With You

Your dog still has room in its heart for another, so it will take some time before they warm up to you.

In the interim, be patient with your new dog. Try to engage with them by taking them on walks or having a nice play session, but don’t expect them to befriend you overnight.

It will happen, especially if you keep at it!

They’re Destructive

If you leave your new dog at home alone for any length of time, it seems like they always get into something.

Acting out can be a sign the dog is unhappy. It could also be that you’re not mentally and physically stimulating the dog enough through play and exercise.

If the dog had a history of separation anxiety with their old owner that was never adequately addressed, this separation anxiety can continue with you and manifest in destructive behavior.

Black Cavapoo lying on a mat in front of the door with scratches.

How Long Will A Dog Miss Its Owner?

Do make sure that you’re not ascribing traits to the dog that the animal simply cannot feel. A dog will grieve its owner but isn’t actively longing for them the same way that two people might after a breakup.

Remember, human emotions are far more complicated complex than what a dog can feel. That said, we established that a dog can miss its owner. How long will this go on?

Fortunately, not long. Your dog could be ready to adjust in a matter of days or weeks.

If it’s been longer than that, you might want to talk to the vet and discuss what you can do to help your dog feel at ease.

Should You Visit After Rehoming Your Dog?

Let’s say that you’re the original owner of the dog. You begrudgingly rehomed your pet because circumstances didn’t allow for any other alternative.

You feel those complex human emotions, so you miss your dog every single day. It’s different from grieving a deceased pet, as your dog is still very much alive, just not a part of your life.

The house feels so empty in their absence. You miss the routes you used to take them on and the fun you two used to have. Could you stop by the new home for a visit?

You could, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

Your dog is going to get overly excited to see you again, which is going to tug hard at your heartstrings.

The elation you feel at seeing and spending time with your dog again will soon be replaced with the crushing realism that you cannot take them home with you, as they have a new life and a new family now.

It can be confusing for the dog to see you and then have you leave again so soon. You could trigger another bout of sadness and lethargy from your pup as they miss you all over again, especially if they’re not yet well-bonded to their new family.

You’ll miss your dog even more than you do now.

If you must visit, you should wait at least six months. By then, your dog will be more than adjusted to its new surroundings. Also, the request should come from the owner of the dog, not from you.

We’d really recommend that maybe you open your heart to a new dog if the circumstances allow, rather than confuse your old dog. Let them enjoy a happy new start. 


Dogs can grieve their old owners and their old home, especially if they lived in a happy home for a long time. It can take days or weeks for the dog to get out of its funk.

If you’re bringing home a rehomed dog, set out familiar items like old toys and blankets, give them a quiet place to get used to things, and–above all–be patient!

Related Reading:
Do Cavapoos Like to Cuddle? Are They Affectionate?
Guide To Leaving A Cavapoo At Home For 1 – 8 Hours
Why Dog Is Scratching Walls (5 Tips to Stop Scratching)