There's no hard and fast rule on whether dogs should or shouldn't be able to have more than one home, so the answer is that it's really down to the individual dog. Some will cope just fine with split living arrangements, but others, particularly young puppies, will be better off with the stability of a single household.
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Signs Your Dog Isn't Coping with Two Different Homes
While this is happening, make sure to closely monitor your dog for any signs of stress or unhappiness. Unfortunately, these signs can manifest themselves in many different ways, so it's hard to pinpoint any exact warning signs to watch out for.
For example, some dogs will show their unhappiness by acting out, channeling their destructive behavior into tearing up your loungeroom furniture or rearranging the garden. Others might become lethargic and depressed, becoming much more moody and showing signs of decreased appetite or activity levels.
There really are a host of symptoms to look for, and if you have a good grasp on what is and isn't normal for your dog you should be able to detect these warning signs early. If there's no underlying health problem causing these changes in behavior, it's time to consider whether your dog is struggling to cope with their unconventional living arrangements.
- Low tail carriage
- Lack of focus
- Dropped Ears
- Behavioral changes
- Moodiness and depression
- Destructive behavior
The Science Behind Dogs Needing Stability
However, if your pet is a young puppy that needs stability, if your dog gets anxious when you move the furniture around, or if he or she simply has difficulty adjusting to any new environment, asking them to split their time between two separate houses may not be a practical solution. The same goes if they have a much stronger attachment to one owner than the other, as splitting up a dog from the person they see as the most important human in the world is a recipe for disaster.
In these situations, it's important to remember that you need to put your dog's needs above all else. Consider your reasons for wanting to set up a twin-home arrangement — is it so that your dog can enjoy the best possible life, or simply so that you (or the other owner) can put your own needs first. If you're thinking of entering into a sharing situation just because you don't want to move on, however difficult it might be, try to do what's best for your dog.
Helping Your Dog Adapt to Their New Living Arrangements
You and the other owner will need to sit down right at the start and work out some key rules and guidelines for how things are going to work moving forward. Dogs love having a routine they can rely on, and ensuring consistency across all aspects of life between both homes is also crucial.
When you're working out the logistics of the arrangement, make sure to discuss:
- Who gets the dog and when
- How will handovers be organized
- What will the dog be fed, how much and when
- When will the dog be exercised and how
- Who pays for vet bills and arranges vet visits
- How will you manage parasite prevention
- How will you ensure that your pet is fed a consistent diet
- How will you ensure consistency of training methods
There's a whole lot you'll need to work through, but this is just a general guide to help you get started.
The other key point to remember is that, in the cases of divorce or relationship breakdown, one person will now have to take care of all those important ownership roles that two of you previously managed together. Finding sufficient time to provide the care your dog needs, not to mention the love and daily interaction, may become more difficult.
However, despite all the potential traps and pitfalls, it is possible to successfully share a dog between two homes. And as dogs continue to play increasingly important roles in our lives, there's every chance we can expect such arrangements to become more commonplace, with dog owners around the nation willing to do whatever it takes to maintain a strong bond with their canine companions.
Safety Tips When Sharing a Pet:
Know your roles. Who is in charge of taking your dog to the vet, getting them vaccinated and ensuring that their parasite prevention is up to date? All owners will need to have their roles clearly defined if this sort of arrangement is going to work.
Consistency is important. Training your dog will be next to impossible if you and the other owner don't employ consistent methods. Make sure you're on the same page and adopt a standard approach to teaching important behaviors.
Think about diet dilemmas. Consistency is also key when it comes to feeding, as dietary changes could potentially result in an upset stomach for your pooch.
Secure your backyard. A confused, unhappy, or bored dog may try to escape from one home and make their way to their other residence, so make sure there are no escape routes they can take advantage of.