dog laying on the sand with a couple

Divorce Effects On Dogs: What Fur Parents Need To Know

Divorce can affect everyone in the family, but we often don’t recognize how it can deeply affect our furry friends. Dogs are sensitive and can easily pick up on stress or tension in the household. When their owners separate, dogs can experience behavioral changes like losing their appetite, becoming more anxious, and even becoming aggressive. To help your pet cope, it’s important to provide extra love and attention during this time to ensure they feel secure through this challenging change. By understanding the divorce effects on dogs, owners can support their furry friends better.

How Divorce Impacts Dogs

Our animal best friends are usually able to pick up on our social cues. When we feel stress, anxiety, or anger, our dogs can generally sense the tension and react to it in their way. During a divorce, there is often tension or arguments in the house, which impacts our pets more than we might think. The stress and change in this environment can make our dogs react in many different ways.

Behavioral Changes

Each dog reacts to stress differently. There are a few common ways that negative behaviors manifest in dogs:

  • Aggression 
  • Destructive behavior
  • Separation anxiety
  • Change in appetite
  • Constant barking or whining
  • Depression or withdrawal
  • Lethargic
  • Avoidance or hiding
  • Excessive paw licking

A Change of Routine and Environment Adjustments

Dogs are creatures of habit, so losing consistency and a routine can be particularly challenging for them.

  • Changing surroundings, like moving homes, can be stressful for dogs. They strongly rely on their noses for familiar scents that they consider home, so they have a hard time getting used to a new, strange environment. With these new smells and the loss of a family member, they may feel lost or confused.
  • Owners are considered family to dogs. When it comes to a divorce, your dog is essentially losing a parent. In the case of having multiple dogs, they may be losing a brother or sister as well. These feelings can cause anxiety and depression for your furry friend.
  • The dog must adjust to two brand-new routines if both owners decide on shared custody. This means going on different walks, adjusting to two other homes, and traveling from home to home. This can be confusing for a dog, and it is unable to express any negative feelings like a child would.

How to Help Your Furry Friend Adjust

You can do a few things to try and help your dog adjust. Keeping a consistent routine can help your dog thrive, including:

  • Sticking to a regular food and exercise schedule
  • Keeping up with familiar routines and activity
  • Make a safe and comfortable place for your dog to retreat to
  • Give sufficient attention and care

When you give your dog a stable, loving, and consistent environment, you can minimize the divorce effects on dogs and help them adjust to this new chapter of life.

Navigating Through Pet Custody And Visitations

One of the most difficult decisions during a divorce is deciding what will happen with their pets. Determining pet custody and visitation can be a complicated process that needs careful consideration of the pet’s best interests and the couple or family’s needs.

Create a Pet Custody Agreement

One of the very first steps you can take when negotiating pet custody is creating a pet custody agreement. This document should specify the custody terms, including who will be the pet’s primary caregiver and how the pet’s care will be shared between both parties. The agreement should also cover all the responsibilities for the pet’s expenses and outline how decisions will be made in the future when it comes to caring for the pet.

Decide on Visitation Rights

After establishing custody, it is also important to discuss visitation rights for your pet. This means creating a schedule that specifies when each person gets time with the pet and discussing details like who is responsible for transporting the pet and where the visits will happen.

Financial Agreements

Taking care of a pet can have significant financial implications. Both parties will have to decide who is responsible for covering the costs of routine check-ups, food and other expenses, and medical emergencies. If the couple is willing and able to, they can consider opening a joint account for pet-related expenses that ensures both individuals can contribute equally to their pet’s care.

Pet Custody Help With A Divorce Lawyer

Even in the best circumstances, divorces are often overwhelming and emotionally taxing. Losing a pet on top of this can make it even more difficult. In order to keep your pet or build a reasonable pet custody agreement, you should seek an attorney who can guide you on how to best approach your division of assets – including your pets.

Serving those in Murfreesboro, attorney Hunter Fowler is experienced with many individuals in different areas of the law. Hunter is prepared to help you ensure your needs are heard and met. Contact us today to prepare for what comes next in your separation, keeping your best interest in mind.