Jennifer Keene, a dog trainer from Beaverton, Ore., wrote We Can’t Stay Together for the Dogs: Doing What’s Best for Your Dog When Your Relationship Breaks Up after her 2005 divorce.
She stresses that, just as in the case of our two-legged children, dog custody should be decided based on what is best for the dog. Who has the dog bonded most strongly with? Who travels the least? Who is available for walks and play-time? Does the dog have special needs that one or the other parent is better equipped to care for?
Keene also points out that there are many variations on dog custody arrangements. The dog can be transported back and forth weekly, if the parents live close to each other. Or one parent can have primary custody, with the other parent providing care when the primary parent goes out of town. Or one parent can keep the dog on the weekdays, while the other has him on weekends.
Key to developing a custody plan is keeping the emotion out of it. Ending a relationship can be a very trying time for everyone, and this does rub off on the dog. Keeping your relationship civil, even when it has come to the point of splitsville, allows you to make decisions that are best for your four-legged friends.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!