June is Social Petworking Month, a time for us to use our resources online to help animals in need. One of the newest trends in online dog communities is something that’s being called “dog sharing.” You’ve probably heard of apps like Lyft that allow for ride sharing or apps like Airbnb that let people share their homes. Dog sharing sites and apps are similar in that they literally allow you to share your dog. Here’s what you should know about dog sharing.
How It Works
There are several different apps and sites that allow for dog sharing, but the goal of most of them is to create an online community of dog lovers who can provide homes for pups to stay in when their primary owner needs help with care. For dog owners, dog sharing can function as an alternative to doggy daycare, dog walkers, or pet sitting services. For those who host dogs, it’s a chance to experience dog ownership without making a full commitment, practice for a future adoption, or join a like-minded group that can provide care for their own dogs, too, if need be.
Many of these communities of dog sharers have started up on Facebook through groups that put people who live in the same area in touch with one another. Members can discuss and work out schedules, get to know and trust each other, and make recommendations. City Dog Share, for example, is a non-profit that started through Facebook and has grown to service several cities in the United States. Some apps have run with the idea of dog sharing and streamlined the process, though they work similarly. You find people you can trust, build relationships, and either allow them to watch your dog, or you can take care of their pooch. You can arrange in-person interviews beforehand and chat before you make any plans.
Most of the time, dog sharing hosts are expected to provide food, bedding, and anything else the dog might need during their stay, while primary owners provide medical care, grooming, and the major expenses. Usually, there is no money exchanged. Many dog sharers stick with two or three other families that provide homes away from home, and they keep a small, intimate community that they can trust to care for their pups.
The Benefits For Dogs And Owners
If you have an active lifestyle that keeps you out of the house, or if you travel a lot, you might benefit from having a trusted community that can care for your dog while you’re away. It can be stressful to find pet sitters that you can rely on, and some dogs can’t handle doggy daycare. Those services can also be quite expensive, especially if you have to make arrangements at the last minute. Dog sharing is a free and often convenient alternative.
Dogs that have separation anxiety or need to work on their socialization skills benefit, as well. Having a human presence can reduce anxiety in some dogs, especially if it is a human that they’ve stayed with before and recognize. Some dogs who need work on their socialization skills get too anxious in training classes or daycare settings that might remind them of being back at the shelter with all the other animals and noises. With dog sharing, they can be exposed to other humans, and possibly pets, on a more one-on-one level while they’re in a comfortable home environment.
Helping Shelter Pets
People who use dog sharing apps and sites often hope that these platforms can be used to encourage adoption of shelter animals. Allowing users to care for dogs without fully owning them can help prepare people for the responsibilities of pet parenting.
Hosts can also help share in the responsibility of training, including house breaking, obedience, and socialization. This can relieve some of the burden of training on busy pet parents and, potentially, reduce instances of dogs being returned to the shelter for unwanted behaviors.
Also, simply understanding that these communities of dog sharers exist can encourage adopters who may feel better knowing that there are people who will back them up and help care for their dogs if needed. Many adopters know that having a dog is a big responsibility, and realizing that they have a group of people that will share in that responsibility can put their minds at ease.
Do dog sharing apps and sites really help dogs get adopted? The trend is relatively new, so only time will tell. If nothing else, they bring dog lovers together to provide support, care, and education for one another, and those things can absolutely help dogs who have forever homes and those who are still waiting. In Social Petworking Month, this may be an online social trend worth exploring for you and your dog.
Would you try a dog sharing site or app? Do you think these trends will help shelter dogs? Let us know in the comments below!