Divorce – What happens to the furry kids?

April 1, 2014 at 1:13 am
Choosing who to go with is not much fun!

We all understand changes in human relationships and how they can impact on all family members. And if children are involved, we’re encouraged to discuss what’s happening with the new life structure and how it will affect them.

But who gets the dog?

There is an unwritten understanding that who gets main custody of the children would also get custody of the dog, but a lot of couples these days may not have children and their dog/s are their babies. So how do you make that decision and how does it impact the furry kids?

I have had quite a few clients contact me for a session in this situation. Some may be distraught, while others are both adamant they want the dog. ‘Full custody’ are the words chosen.

It’s a difficult position to be in as emotions are running high and communication isn’t always clear in these circumstances. Some clients will ask me to find out who the dog wants to live with. They tend to think that their pet will know who is the right person. It’s an enormous amount of pressure to put an animal in. They’re already feeling the stress and tension of changes in the home front, let alone having to make a decision on whom they love best.

In these sensitive conditions, I usually ask both parties to be present and discuss what’s best for their dog. Whether they are a parent to human children or furry kids, the decision is still best to be made by the adults in the family.

Once a decision is reached and agreed, this is where animal communication comes into play. I will communicate this to their dog so all parties are aware. The owner’s will usually notice a relief wash over their dog, as now they know what’s happening. This doesn’t mean they won’t feel sadness.

There are a few options

  • The dog lives with one person only
  • The dog lives with one person but when one is away/holidays, they may take them
  • Joint custody

I know the latter one may seem odd, however there are a lot of couples starting to move in this direction. I for instance am one of those people! Creating stability and routine for your dog is the most important ingredient if you do choose joint custody. That’s what I emphasise for my clients.

Here are some guidelines to assist

1. Who spends most of the time with Rover?

  • Feeding
  • Walking
  • Vet appointments


2. What is your lifestyle going to be like once changes happen?

  • Home
  • Working longer hours
  • Being more social

3. Interacting with them when home

  • Being present with them
  • Connecting with them – noticing them

4. Who creates the structure for them at home?

  • Can you replicate this?
  • If not, what structure would you create?

5. Joint custody – what are the rules


  • Create an agreement that allows your dog to feel stability no matter which home he/she is in

Remember there is no right way or wrong way to doing this, it’s putting your dog’s home life first and keeping communication clear and open.

Until next time, WOOF!