Parents' Guide to

A Dog's Way Home

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Sentimental but sweet dog adventure has intense, sad scenes.

Movie PG 2019 96 minutes
A Dog's Way Home Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 65 parent reviews

age 12+

If your kid is sensitive, avoid

My 9 year old son couldn't make it past the first 1/3 of the movie he was crying so badly. He is admittedly sensitive about animals, and this movie is filled with traumatic situations for the dog who is always under threat. These are disturbing threats, not like Homeward Bound which he loves. So if your kid is sensitive especially about animal abuse, I would definitely avoid.
age 14+

Traumatized my son

My 4.5 yo daughter wanted to watch this since we just got a puppy. My sensitive 8 yo son cried throughout, and we all thought the situations the main character, a rescued dog named Bella, went through, we’re horrible. We pushed through to show them that everything ended up ok, but it was tough. I wouldn’t recommend it at all for children. Now let me go comfort my kids and ensure them that our dog isn’t going to be taken away from them, subjected to starvation, wild animals and dog wardens, or hit by a police car.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (65 ):
Kids say (38 ):

Cameron is like Nicholas Sparks, but for pet stories; his crowd-pleasing, tearjerking work focuses on the powerful love between humans and their dogs. And while dog-loving families will be happy to note that, unlike in A Dog's Purpose, there's no death scene involving the central canine in A Dog's Way Home, there definitely is an emotional, intense story arc that's likely to leave them in tears. Howard does a fine job voicing the incredibly loving, determined, and long-suffering Bella, who wants nothing more than to play with Lucas and comfort "Mom" and her veteran friends. Bella's relationship with the doting Lucas (Hauer-King is sweetly charming) is as cute as you'd expect, especially the twee way he offers her a "tiny piece of cheese" every night before bed.

But the movie's second half, which deals with the series of sad to seriously upsetting obstacles Bella faces once she's separated from Lucas, is overlong. The scenes Bella spends as an adoptive mother to an orphaned baby cougar she calls "Big Kitten" feel like they're part of one of those "unlikely animal friends" stories, but the cougar looks so overtly computer-generated that the effect can be off-putting. And when Bella ends up with homeless Axel (Edward James Olmos), things get downright depressing. The theme of veterans suffering from mental illness works in the context of service dogs, but Axel's situation seems a bit heavy for what's otherwise clearly a family-targeted film. There's a brief moment of happiness when Bella temporarily lives with a kind married couple (Barry Watson and Motell Gyn Foster) who want to adopt her. She's tempted, but her heart belongs at home, with Lucas.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate