Getting a pet together is not something you should take lightly. You and your partner will equally be responsible for caring for another living thing. And based on the type of pet you want, that can be up to 20 or more years of co-pet-parenting. Do you see the signs you’re ready to get a pet together?
Are you ready for that commitment? Getting a pet together should not be a replacement for something else. It should not be a distraction from your problems or a reason to stay together.
Deciding to get a pet together is a big step in your relationship that requires some serious thought.
Have you seen the signs you’re ready to get a pet together or are you reaching?
[Read: These 10 signs your rocky relationship deserves to keep going]
If you think you’re ready to get a pet together, that is great. But, have you really thought it through, or have you thought, “oh yay, a puppy.” Getting a pet is a big responsibility whether you’re in a relationship or not, so when you are making that minimum 10-year commitment with your partner, it means a lot.
Getting a pet together means you seriously see a future together. It means you trust each other. You won’t always be home at the same time, so you have to trust the other to teach your pet rules, feed them, and care for them.
[Read: What is commitment in a relationship? How to know if you have it in your relationship]
Getting a pet together isn’t like picking out a new set of sheets. It isn’t something you need to agree on and share. It is something you need to continuously care for.
Pets cost money, require preplanning for vacations, need boundaries, and need you to be on the same team.
Many people say getting a pet together means you aren’t afraid of commitment, but a pet can be a big and even empty gesture. A pet can say commitment or future, but it can also be a placeholder or a symbol.
When you and your partner fight, do they bring home flowers and expect all to be forgiven? Or do you still work things out? A pet can be a BandAid or distraction for other issues which will only make things more complicated, not to mention, how unfair that would be to an innocent animal.
If you get a pet together, things are real, so you need to be ready for that.
[Read: 16 common relationship tips that ruin your love life]
I hope I didn’t scare you with what it means to get a pet together. But being scared can be good. It means you are worried and care, and that is a good sign.
What are some other signs you’re ready to get a pet together?
Making sure you work together as a couple under the same roof without a pet is essential before getting one. If you’ve never lived together and want to get a pet, you have two stressful situations coming at you at once.
Try to live together for at least six months before committing to a pet. If you are settled and happy together in one house, it is a sign you are ready to get a pet together. [Read: The practical things to do before moving together and make it successful!]
Talking about the future is key when it comes to getting a pet together. You probably aren’t getting a goldfish or sea monkeys, and with a cat or dog, you have a long commitment together. If you haven’t really spoken about your future, this won’t work.
Don’t talk about your dream of living in Tuscany when you retire, but your realistic goals. Are you planning on moving to a new city? Do you want to buy a house together? Do you plan on getting married? Being on the same page now will help things run a lot more smoothly later.
Everyone is different when it comes to animals. Some love to cuddle with their fur babies while others keep them off the furniture. Will you allow your pet in bed with you? Will they be allowed in certain rooms in the house?
These things need to be discussed and agreed upon now so that you don’t have major fights when you have a new and anxious pet in the house. [Read: Fur baby and why millennials are choosing pets over babies]
A new pet is not just a ball of cuteness. A new pet brings a rough night’s sleep, messes, vet bills, and more. Kittens and puppies can keep you up all night before they get into a routine. Will you be able to handle that stress together?
A new pet may chew on your shoes or pee on the carpet. Can you handle those disruptions?
An equal level of responsibility is required when adopting a pet together. Do you have a game plan for things like vet appointments, grooming, cleaning litter boxes, or taking the dog for a walk?
Will you share these responsibilities? Does one of you work at home, so you have more time to do this stuff? Talking this out first will prevent resentment later on.
Pets are expensive. Cat, dog, or guinea pig, they take up a lot of room in your budget. Do you have the funds to afford not only food and toys, but vet bills? Will you split the cost equally?
Will you be cutting it close? If the monetary stress of a pet will push you over the edge, the cuteness may not be worth it.
Pets require love and attention. Do you have the time to give a pet what they need? Do you both work or travel a lot? When you travel, do you have someone reliable to pet sit?
In case of an emergency, do you have a neighbor or friend that can go to your place to let out the dog or feed the cat? Consider these details before making a commitment to the pet and each other.
Although some couples will give a puppy as a gift, I recommend agreeing on the pet beforehand. Do you want a specific breed? Do you want to adopt? Are you open to a special needs pet? Do you want a dog to be protective or would you prefer a lapdog?
These things are important to consider before bringing a pet into your home. [Read: 9 tips for couples who want to get a pet together]
Some people say getting a pet together is practice for a child. In some ways, that is true. You are learning to share responsibility for another life, but a pet can usually be home alone for hours.
Getting a pet together is not the same as having a child, but it should be discussed. Are you on the same page about kids? If you adopt a dog that doesn’t do well with kids, how will you handle that down the line?
Make sure to have these important discussions before introducing your pet into an unstable environment.
[Read: 12 key moments in your relationship will predict your future together]
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