Ask the Dog Trainer: Should I Keep My Dog?
A reader's relocation forces him to make a painful decision about his beloved pet. Check out the Dog Trainer's solution.
"I recently had to move to a new city for my job. It turned out that not many apartments here allow pets, and the best place I could find is far enough from work that I won’t be able to let my dog Beetle out at lunchtime. He can hold it all day – he’s hung on in emergencies before – but it seems really hard on him to do that every day. My ex-wife loves Beetle to pieces and she’s home more than I am. I feel like I should let him go live with her, but it’s breaking my heart. What should I do?"
A. Can I just say how great it is that you’re giving so much thought to your dog’s well-being? I can? Well, then: It’s great!!
You’re right that a full workday, with commuting time added at each end, is too long to ask a dog to hold it routinely. Beetle’s housetraining may break down. And even if he can hold it that long, it’s not good for him to do so – it can lead to urinary-tract problems down the road.
But if you can afford a walker, problem solved! Dog walkers and pet sitters often post flyers at vets’ offices and pet supply stores; get references and check them. (You can interview vets while you’re scouting out walkers, by the way.) Many localities have Yahoo! lists for news and information sharing – join and ask for recommendations for pet care.
Another possible concern, since it sounds as if Beetle may be spending more time alone than he’s been used to, is loneliness and boredom. If he suffers from separation anxiety, and your ex is in a better position to do a behavior modification program, then sending Beetle to live with her may be best option. But if he doesn’t have any particular problems in this department, alone time doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for living with you. Make sure he gets plenty of exercise first thing in the morning and leave him some food-dispensing toys to play with while you’re gone. Beetle’s day will go by quickly if he’s spending it sacked out from all that doggy fun. By the time you get home, he’ll be refreshed and ready to hang with you.
If overall you think that right now your ex can better meet Beetle's needs than you can, then living with her is a good choice. But I wouldn't say it's a foregone conclusion. And again, good for you for being so thoughtful and concerned about your dog's needs.
Dog photo courtesy of Shutterstock.