One has little time, the other does not want to buy his own four-legged friend. The solution: share a dog. But what do you have to pay attention to? And why does the method rarely work with divorce dogs?
We share cars, clothes, tools and homes. Anyone who uses things together conserves resources and, thanks to the Internet, usually finds like-minded people quickly. It is similar with dog sharing, i.e. when two people “share” a dog, i.e. take care of the animal together.
This is how dog sharing works
Similar to an equestrian participation, two people take care of the dog. There can be many reasons for this: when life circumstances have changed, when a partnership breaks up, when working hours change or a change of location is imminent. And there are also reasons from the perspective of the co-dog handler: an apartment that is too small, no budget – but a great love for dogs and the longing to be with an animal and to take on responsibility.
In her everyday life as a dog trainer, Giulia Lautz encounters many dog owners who share the care of their darling with someone else. “In our experience, the dog-sharing care model has increased significantly in recent years,” says the owner of the “Martin Rütter Dogs” dog school in Wil/St.Gallen in Switzerland.
Freedom for people who want to keep a dog
Lautz observes the trend especially among the younger generation of those under 40 years of age. Even working singles want to keep a dog. You juggle with flexible working hours and are familiar with shift and part-time work. While it used to be said that someone who works shouldn’t keep a dog, today we know that there are definitely ways to offer a dog a species-appropriate life even as a worker – one of them is dog sharing.
“If all caregivers pull together when it comes to training the dog and expecting care, that can be a good solution,” says Giulia Lautz.
Strangers get together
«It has always been the case that several people take care of a dog. Extended family, friends, neighbors – dog owners usually have a network. Ideally, before making the purchase, they should have thought about who can look after the animal next to them, for example in the event of illness or when travelling,” says dog specialist Annette Möckel from the professional association of dog educators and behavioral consultants (BHV) and owner of the dog school “ichunddu ».
At Dogsharing you will find like-minded people who care about the joy of shared dog care – financial interests are irrelevant. In contrast to other forms of care: dog day care centers or dog boarding houses have fee rates, dog sitters and dog walkers charge hourly wages.
The needs of the dog are the focus
For Annette Möckel and Giulia Lautz, dog sharing focuses on the needs of the dog, not the needs of humans. After all, it wasn’t the animal that decided on master or mistress. «We humans make decisions for the dog and it is our obligation to treat living creatures with care and responsibility. Dogs are not there to make people happy,” says Moeckel.
The basic requirement for caring for an animal together is that the dog owner and the co-sharer get along well. This includes tolerance and mutual freedom. Nevertheless, clear agreements should be made: Where does the dog spend how much time and when? What does the animal get to eat, what about the table manners?
“I can only recommend that there should be one main owner who is responsible and makes important decisions, for example when it comes to veterinary treatment,” says Annette Möckel. Her tip: “It is best to put agreements in writing and sign them like a contract.”
Take your time, use common vocabulary
Both dog experts agree: Not every four-legged friend is suitable for dog sharing. Dogs are social creatures that in most cases can easily get along with several caregivers. In any case, you should give the animal time to get used to the new situation. The co-carer should be given the opportunity to develop a relationship with the animal.
In the beginning it is advisable to do something together. Dogs that are very attached to their owner or are simply older may have a fear of loss, so patience is required. It is also important to agree on uniform signals and rules, for example the same callback word should be used. The new caregiver must know exactly how the dog reacts to other dogs, walkers, cyclists or children playing.
How does the animal experience separation?
Dogs are closely related to humans. They mourn when a person disappears – for example when a child leaves the parent’s household, when couples divorce or when a family member dies. What should you consider when separating? “Basically, most dogs are flexible and adaptable. However, you need time to get used to the new situation,” says Annette Möckel.
Her advice for owners of “divorce dogs”: “Dogs are stressed when people act out their conflicts through them – so this should be avoided as much as possible. There are concepts how this can be regulated. It is best if a main caregiver is determined.” BHV dog schools offer help and professional support.
The “divorce dog” project is rarely successful
For a shared care it is necessary that conflicts between the ex-partners are resolved emotionally. Giulia Lautz made the experience that master and mistress would like to continue to take care of their dog together after the separation – but then the project fails. «In theory it sounds easy. If the ex-couple finds a partnership with each other, it can work,” says Lautz.
Unfortunately, in practice it looks different. The situation is emotionally difficult for masters and mistresses. The dog, in turn, also feels this and this can put a strain on him. “In the vast majority of cases, the “divorce dog” project fails sooner or later. In the end, the dog stays with one partner while the other withdraws completely,” says the dog trainer.
More on the subject: