Are you and your significant other ready to grow your family by four paws? There's a lot of responsibility that goes into adopting a new pet, so before you decide to bring home a four-legged friend, find out if your relationship is up to the challenge. We talked with licensed family therapist Brooke Riehl about ways a couple can know if it's the right time to get a pet.
Are your communication skills solid?
Before you bring home a dog, it's important to assess how you and your significant other—be it your boyfriend, fiancé, or husband—communicate. "Have you discussed your roles? Who will be feeding the pet daily? Taking them on walks? Cleaning up the puppy accidents? Can the dog sleep in the bed?" asks Riehl. "It is important to be proactive and have these discussions early on to avoid any unnecessary conflict." This is an opportunity to discuss expectations, rules, and roles.
Do you both of the time for a dog?
Bringing home a dog (especially if it's a puppy) is a huge time commitment, and you should both expect there to be a long adjustment period. Dogs require an abundance of attention and can often cause stress in the household. "You should ask yourself if your relationship is stable enough to endure this transition. This will likely require sacrifices to your current lifestyle," says Riehl.
Are you financially ready?
If there's one thing couple's argue about most, it's finances. "Before you consider getting a dog, it's important to crunch some numbers to ensure that your budget can sustain the necessary costs," says Riehl. Unexpected surprises will undoubtedly pop up during the course of your "pet parenting" journey. Consider setting a dollar amount for how much you're each willing to contribute towards your new pet each month.
Are you sure you're ready to make a long commitment?
And we're not just talking about to the pet, although that, of course, is a factor. Are you willing to love and care for this animal for the next 10 to 15 years? More importantly, do you see yourself with your current significant other for this long, too? "Owning a dog is definitely a long-term relationship. Talk to your boyfriend or husband about your long term goals and if a canine fits within your plans," says Riehl.