What Is Dog Sharing?

Dog Sharing

Today’s living expenses are high and work hours are demanding, reducing the amount of money and time that the average person has available to care for a dog.  However, that does not have to preclude you from becoming a pet parent. By entering into a dog-sharing arrangement, you can enjoy having a dog even if your lifestyle would not normally allow you to have one. So, what is dog sharing? Let’s discuss:

What is dog sharing?

Dog sharing refers to sharing ownership of a dog between multiple people.  For example, roommates or friends may purchase or adopt a dog together and agree to divide responsibilities of care and expenses amongst themselves.

What are the benefits of dog sharing?

There are many benefits to dog sharing, such as:

A dog’s social needs are more adequately met

When parties to a dog sharing arrangement work staggered schedules, a dog spends minimal time alone, which is in their best interest because they are very social animals.

Emergency Preparedness

Dog sharing can prevent a dog from being surrendered to a shelter in cases of hospitalization or death, as there is another person that the dog could reside with if something happens to one of their owners.  If one of the parties to a dog sharing arrangement has to work late or has an emergency, they always have someone they can trust to call to help take care of their dog.

Reduced expenses

Dogs are not inexpensive animals to own; between veterinary expenses, food, toys, monthly flea and tick and heartworm preventatives, as well as other care costs, dogs can cost well over $200 per month. Dog sharing can reduce the cost of ownership by dividing expenses between the parties sharing the dog.  Parties to a dog sharing arrangement can plan their vacations in a way that would allow one of them to always be available to watch the dog, thereby saving money by eliminating the need to arrange for a pet sitter or boarding.

How do I share my dog?

If you are interested in sharing a dog that you already own, there are a few ways to get started:

Talk to who you know

Maybe you know someone who loves dogs and does not have one, or you could ask people you trust if they know of anyone who would be interested.

If you do not personally know anyone who would be interested, the internet is the default place to  begin a search for potential sharers:

  • Websites like Borrow My Doggy and City Dog Share are dedicated to helping facilitate dog sharing arrangements.
  • If neither of these websites service your area, social media is a good place to go.
  • While some people have successfully used Craiglist to initiate dog sharing, it is not recommended. Should you choose to use this website, exercise extreme caution.

Screen carefully

Take the time to thoroughly screen anyone you consider sharing your dog with. Here are some screening ideas to consider:

  • Check their criminal record.
  • Ask for personal references and veterinarian references from ownership of previous pets.
  • Ask to visit their home to see where your dog would be spending time with them.
  • Ask about their experience caring for dogs and other animals.
  • Note their appearance and hygiene; if they do not take good care of themselves, they probably would not take good care of your dog.

Leave no stone unturned; your dog’s welfare and safety depend upon your judgment.

Communicate clearly

Once you have found someone that you trust to share your dog with, begin by discussing what you want the arrangement to look like. Be clear on what your standards of care are for your dog before they meet.

Do a trial

Go with your dog for walks and doggy play dates with them to see if they click before leaving them alone together.

What are the downsides to dog sharing?

Dog sharing is a great concept, but it is not perfect. Consider these downsides before committing to dog sharing:

  • A dog can be a 10 year plus commitment; as such, custody disputes can materialize. For example, in the event that a party to the arrangement moves a significant distance that impacts sharing a dog, who would get to keep the dog?
  • If parties to a dog sharing arrangement will be adopting or purchasing a dog together, in which party’s name will the dog be licensed with the state or other government agency as required by local laws? The dog being licensed under someone’s name may give them an advantage in a custody dispute.
  • Finances can be a source of conflict in these arrangements. If one of the parties experiences financial difficulties, would the other parties to the arrangement be able to pick up the slack? How would that party reimburse the other parties for the expenses they were unable to pay for?
  • Having an exit strategy is important if one of the parties does not uphold their responsibilities.  Consider what actions would terminate the dog sharing arrangement.  For example, one of the parties neglects the dog’s care, or stops contributing towards the dog’s expenses and never attempts to reimburse or begin paying again.
  • Are all parties like-minded in their canine nutrition preferences? For example, if one party believes organic human-grade food is the best option for the dog but another prefers traditional corn and by-product kibble, the dog’s digestive system would suffer if they could not agree on which food the dog would eat.
  • Do all the parties use the same dog training methods? For example, some people use positive reinforcement methods and others use negative reinforcement methods. Some people adhere to a strict training regime while others are more relaxed.

What is the expert view on dog sharing?

 

While dog sharing is a practical idea from a financial point of view, is it a good idea for dogs? Here is what experts say:

Consistency concerns

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs need consistency.  If all parties to a dog sharing agreement are on the same page regarding the dog’s care, the dog will live with a consistent routine and lifestyle across homes,  so will be more likely to thrive. Some dogs may also enjoy the change of scenery.

However, if the parties care for the dog very differently, it may be less enjoyable and even stressful for the dog. For example, if one party has boundaries and rules that the dog must follow, but another party has no rules, the dog will struggle with remembering the rules. This would mean constant re-training which can cause frustration for all parties involved.

Responsibility concerns

Veterinarian Dr. Lori Teller discussed dog sharing in an interview where she recommends that a dog should have a primary owner and that individuals should not adopt a dog if they cannot afford one without being in a dog sharing arrangement.

If the arrangement could no longer continue for some reason, someone needs to be able to care for the dog. If at least one party can afford the dog alone, they should be the primary owner and have ownership rights in the event the arrangement ends.

This is crucial to consider because if no one in the arrangement has the ability to afford the dog on their own, the dog could end up in the shelter if the arrangement failed.

Legal concerns

Attorney Jeremy Cohen who specializes in dog law discussed dog sharing in an interview, wherein he stated that the legal implications of dog ownership are a concern in dog sharing arrangements.

For example, if a party passes away and there are more than two co-owners involved in the arrangements, who has ownership rights to the dog? If the dog bites someone, who is liable; the person who had the dog at the time, or is the liability shared among all involved even if they were not present for the incident?

Summary

According to veterinarian Dr. Lori Teller, dog sharing can fulfill a dog’s social needs well. As long as all parties involved are responsible and ensure that the arrangement is carefully constructed, dog sharing can be quite successful.

However, there are real concerns to be considered before entering into a dog sharing agreement. When your dog is in someone else’s custody, you will not know who is around them or how they are treated. You must only share your dog with someone that you trust completely. If there is any doubt about dog sharing in your mind, do not rush into the agreement and remember that you can refuse to share your dog if you do not feel comfortable doing it.

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan

As a pet owner, Barry’s belief is that a pet is part of the family and should be treated that way. As a lover of the outdoors, he loves nothing more than long walks with his dog. Barry’s mission is to use his experience to help others enjoy being with their pets to the full.

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