Do you have time?
How much time do you have as a couple? My husband and I are self-employed, and we purposely waited until we had traveled extensively, gotten our personal businesses set up and moved into a pet-friendly area before we made the commitment of getting dogs so we could work at home and be with them.
Watching a puppy can be a full-time job, and it's easy to under-estimate how much time it takes to raise dogs responsibly. Will you need to hire a dog walker to come let her out? If you take the dog to day care, will she be socialized? Be fair to the animal and don't think that the other person is going to pick up responsibilities you're slacking on.
Have a plan for sharing responsibilities. Who's going to get up in the middle of the night to let them out? Will you trade off nights? This can be an especially huge job if you live in a big city in an apartment and going "in and out" requires running up and down flights of stairs.
Even in well-thought-out situations, the bulk of responsibility can fall on one person. Are you OK if that person is you? Try to work out a set of shared responsibilities or a schedule of who should do what (feeding, walking) and when (in the morning, after work, before bed). When people neglect their duties or hold resentment, it's the animal that suffers.
Think about the future
What happens if you split up? This isn't a fun topic to touch on, but it's especially important to discuss if you're dating. And yes, some marriages end in divorce so it's important to lay some ground rules. For people whose dogs are like their children, the matter of who will "get" the dogs after a breakup is not one to take lightly. Initially agree on who the pet really belongs too so if a break-up occurs, the situation is less messy.
Enjoy your pets together! This, of course, is the fun part of having pets as a couple. You can take them with you to the park or to the beach. They curl up with you while you watch a movie and in many ways, your bond with them strengthens your bond with your partner. Eventually your small family is formed.
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