Being A Doggy Co-Parent

As many of you know I have a great little rescue dog called Dolly. Like most dogs, Dolly chose me and not the other way around. The problem at the time was that my working hours wouldn’t let me commit to a dog full time. I didn’t want to make a promise to a dog that they had a great new home only to stick them in kennels or with a dog sitter for most of the week.

It was a chance conversation that I had with my friend, Heath, that led to the novel solution of dog sharing. At the time, a lot of people tried to dissuade me from this doggy co-parenting idea as they believed that Dolly might get confused or feel unsettled being constantly passed between 2 homes. They also thought that as owners we might fall out over custody or general care of Dolly.

It took some time to iron out the logistics, but sharing a dog really does work. You get all the joy of dog ownership but you halve the costs and responsibility. Dolly is one of the most well socialised and well behaved dogs I know-of course every owner says that, but I think in Dolly’s case it’s actually true.

Here’s my top tips for being a doggy co-parent.

  • Establish your custody routine. We did 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off which worked well for us.
  • Be flexible-especially around holidays. Dolly gets twice the time away!
  • Agree on diet and try to stick to it in both houses. Constant food changes can cause havoc on sensitive stomachs.
  • Have the same exercise routines. Once she gets used to a 6am walk, EVERYONE is getting up at 6am!
  • No tit-bits. Your dog will otherwise start constantly begging wherever they are.
  • Try to keep to the same house rules. Dolly’s rules were quite similar although she had a ‘no sofa’ rule in one house and she learned this really quickly.
  • Whose paying those vet bills? Make sure everyone is aware of their responsibility for costs of treatment.


It’s hard to say goodbye but don’t get offended when she’s so excited to see her other owner that she runs into their arms without giving you a second glance. She’ll do the same to them in 2 weeks!

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