Welcome to the final segment of my 5-part series. In this final instalment, I will discuss the importance of final planning before getting a dog. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the previous posts to get a comprehensive understanding of what to consider before bringing a furry friend into your home. You can find the full series in “5 things to know before getting a dog“.
While it may not be the most pleasant topic to consider, planning for your dog’s future care is an essential responsibility of being a dog owner. By identifying a caretaker and preparing your dog for the transition, you can ensure that they are taken care of even when you’re not around. So, let’s dive in and explore what you need to know about final planning before getting a dog.
Your final planning before getting a dog should include the unimaginable.
As responsible dog owners, we all want to ensure that our pets are loved and cared for even during unthinkable circumstances. But have you thought about who will take care of your dog if you cannot? It’s crucial to plan for your dog’s future care, especially in case of an emergency. And it’s vital that this final planning be done before getting a dog. Because by not do this now, your dog could end up in a shelter if you can no longer care for him.
When we bring a pet into our home, we often don’t think about how our circumstances might change. For example, you might become incapacitated or pass away due to illness or injury. Or you might separate from your partner.
In the case of becoming incapacitated, it is very important to plan for who will take care of your dog in case that happens. In respect to home circumstances changing such as breaking up with your partner or needing to move to a place that doesn’t allow or is not suitable for your dog to live there, you need to plan for these situations too!
And if you become ill, pass away or move to an unsuitable location, it’s important to find someone you trust who will adopt your dog.
Who will take care of your dog if you no longer can do so?
Before getting a dog, it’s essential to do your final planning to ensure you and your dog are well-prepared. Here’s a checklist of what to do before getting a dog:
Research and identify potential caretakers for the future before getting a dog.
- Willingness to take care of your dog in an emergency or long-term situation
- Ability to provide proper care and attention, including feeding, exercise, and medical care
- Suitable living situation, including a safe and secure environment for your dog
- Financial capability to take care of your dog’s needs
- Availability to provide proper care and attention, including spending quality time with your dog
- Compatibility with your dog’s personality and lifestyle
Put your wishes in writing.
Make sure to state the name of the person who has agreed to take care of your dog, along with any specific instructions they need to follow. Be sure to include their contact information and to update it if any of that information changes.
Prepare your dog for the transition.
When circumstances occur in which you have time to prepare your dog for the transition, doing so can help him adapt well to his new home. After all it is possible that it won’t be an emergency situation. Such circumstances could be if you sadly are diagnosed with an illness or if you are elderly and want to transfer your pet to his new location while you can give him the time to become acquainted with his future home. This will allow the people and environment to become familiar to him before he moves there.
Here are some tips:
- Introduce your dog to their potential caretaker gradually. Start with short visits and gradually increase the duration and frequency of visits.
- During visits, make sure that your dog is comfortable and familiar with their new caretaker. Encourage positive interactions and reward good behavior.
- Provide your dog with familiar items, such as their favourite toys and bedding, to help them feel more comfortable in their new environment. Even providing a used piece of your clothing with your scent can be comforting to your dog.
- Stick to your pet’s routine as much as possible, including feeding and exercise schedules. This will help your dog feel more comfortable and reduce stress during the transition.
- Communicate with the new caretaker about your dog’s health, personality, likes, and dislikes, and any specific needs or behaviors to be aware of. Remember to specify what food your dog eats so that not to change his diet abruptly and risk digestion issues occurring.
Who will have custody of your dog in the case of a divorce or separation?
Although you likely cannot imagine circumstances in which you separate from your partner, it’s important to plan for this unlikelihood before getting a dog. Because in most jurisdictions dogs are considered “property” in the eyes of the law and will be allocated to the given partner as any other shared property when you and your partner breakup. And break ups can become a very hurtful situation in which you and your partner argue over who will get the dog when you go your separate ways.
Create a “Petnup”!
Recently, I actually came across a news story about this very circumstances! It demonstrates how pet custody becomes so important when couples find themselves separating from each other. So they explain how couples should draft a legal document of which they call a “Petnup” as soon as you bring your pet home! Just like there is a prenuptial agreement for couples to declare the value of their assets when they plan on moving in together, there should be a separate written legal document that declares who will be entitled to take custody of the dog if you and your partner divorce or separate.
A true story of pet custody when a couple separated.
I personally witnessed a situation with one of my clients in which the couple got their sweet dog soon after they got married. But a few years later they separated and got divorce.
And sure enough, the lawyers were discussing who will get custody of the dog because both partners loved her to bits! Initially, the partner who moved out of the house, moved into an apartment within a couple of blocks from where the couple was living. And they had shared custody.
He picked the dog up on Fridays and brought her back to the wife’s place Monday mornings. It was an agreeable arrangement as not to disrupt the little dog’s life. But that ended up taking a tole on her in which this back and forth in itself was obviously making the dog very stressed! As result, the couple determined that it was best for their pet to live with the wife since that place was the dog’s original home. But it took about a year to sort this out! Which was heart-breaking for everyone involved!
So I highly recommend that you research and prepare a legal “Petnup” before getting a dog and then fill in the dog’s name, gender, breed etc. to clearly identify your specific pet and who will have custody of her if you and your partner separate.
Before getting a dog, include the unexpected in your final planning.
Consider setting up funds to cover at least some initial costs and make sure your caretaker knows how to access it if needed.
Final planning before getting a dog is a significant responsibility of being a dog owner. By identifying a caretaker, putting your wishes in writing, and preparing your dog for the transition, you can ensure that they’re taken care of even when you’re not around. So, take the time to plan and consider your options before getting a dog. And remember, by following these tips, you can make the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible for your furry friend.
Be sure to check out my other blogs that can help you plan before getting your future dog such as learning about avoiding puppy mills and unethical dog rescue agencies, dog nutrition and keeping your dog safe on road trips.
Yours in better dog care, Judy
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