Separation, divorce and dogs
By Wag The Dog UK on November 27, 2012
Let me tell you how it feels when your owners that you love to wagging bits decide to argue and separate. Believe it or not, we feel everything and get really confused, nervous and sad.
When you experience your parents scream and yell, slam doors and sleep in different rooms…It makes our whole world go crazy.
First of all my loyalty to both my owners made me very confused and I started acting out. I decided that I did not want to listen or obey either of my owners. At night when they went to their separate rooms, I was confused and did not know where to go. So I slept on the couch alone, this way I could show my owners that I was not favoring one over the other.
My biggest concern was what is going to happen to me? What about my schedule? My meals? Who will take care of me? I felt frightened.
I tried to cheer them up, by being really friendly to my dad owner and being really cuddly to my mum owner, hoping I could make a difference.
Dogs are social animals, and silent watchers, we can pick up people’s vibrations, any change in schedule or environment or change in atmosphere caused by arguments within the family.
Dogs are creatures of habit and function to our timetable – wake-up time, meal time, bedtime, playtime, etc. Some dogs find it harder to accept a change of routine than others and especially hard for older dogs, who more often than not will go rapidly downhill when faced with the upheaval that accompanies divorce.
Did you know
Various studies have shown that dogs show emotions such as love, grief, jealousy and fear. The scientific confirmation of animal emotions is relatively recent. According to studies by a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin, researchers found dogs to be fairly emotionally complex, with four specific areas of personality: competence, emotional stability, affection and sociability. These components are very similar to the categories of human personality.
Advice to your owners if this ever happens to you
- If your dog is staying with one owner and the other owner leaves remember that your dog will need a lot of love and comfort.
- Seek the advice of your vet if your dog shows any signs of depression such as not eating or behavioural problems.
- Keep your dogs schedule as normal as possible.
- Use your dog as a source of comfort rather than shutting him or her out of your problems. For example if you have a dog take it for long walks to clear your head.
- Allow yourself to grieve if you lose your pet in the process of divorce. The love between a dog and their owner can be very real, and it will be natural for both of you to suffer a sense of loss.
- Make sure that you are attentive and make your dog feel secure.
- If you are letting the other owner visit the dog, make it a positive experience for your dog and do not try to score points with your ex. Do not shout in front of the dog. Make it a good experience for the dog. It will be new for your dog too, and can become confused why the owner is not living in the pack anymore.
- Best advice for sharing your dog, is to start slowly with familiar walks and make sure you are positive. Try one on one first before introducing your dog to new people or locations.
Wag The Dog UK
by Lisa Stone
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