Life is ruff. You know your life would be infinitely better with a four-legged companion, but your wonderful partner, despite all of his or her other great qualities, fails to see it. You know that you’re right, but how do you get your partner to understand?
Ideally this would have been discussed before you started dating or got married, and maybe it was but your beloved changed their mind. Or perhaps, despite the very serious flaw of not wanting to adopt all the pets, you really like your partner, and you just need them to change their mind on this one, very important item.
Your partner may have legitimate hesitations about adopting a pet, and even if you know in your heart that adoption would be the best decision ever, this is an argument you shouldn’t win by begging and pleading. If you are committed to your partner, and committed to getting a pet, then you’ll need to make this decision together. Here are 10 strategies for presenting a successful case for pet-ownership:
1. Be ready to listen
If you are reading this, you already know why you want a pet: because pets are the best, obviously! But do you understand why your partner doesn’t want one? It’s not fair to expect them to acquiesce to your request without taking the time to understand, and address, their objections. Make sure that you’re in an emotional state where you can keep an open mind and listen to their objections without simply waiting to tell them why they’re wrong. Perhaps your partner has a reason that the two of you aren’t ready for a pet that you don’t have a good answer for, and as hard as that may be, it’s better to hear it now.
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2. Do Your Homework
Is it you or your partner who’s generally more organized and prepared? When it comes to the pet conversation, it had better be you! If you answer your partner’s every objection with, “But I want one!” they may not be convinced that you are mature enough to care for an animal. If you’re ready to care for another life, then you should be ready to do some research. What kind of pet do you want and why? Do you have a plan for training, walking, and scooping? What’s your plan when for when you take vacations?
Make a list of concerns your partner might have. Talk to dog owners. Talk to shelters. Delve deep into the less attractive side of pet ownership (uh-oh, looks like the dog as diarrhea…) and see if you are ready to deal with the financial, emotional, and practical challenges. If so, it’s time to have the conversation.
3. Time the conversation strategically
You wouldn’t just announce to your partner that it’s time for the two of you to have kids (right?), and even though adopting a pet is marginally less serious, it’s still a big decision that takes time. When you’re ready to talk to your partner, ask them if there is a good time to chat, or you may want to break up the conversation into little bits so that they’re not overwhelmed. Talking about pet adoption when your partner is tired, hungry, emotional, or grumpy is a surefire way to help them associate pets with negative feelings—not the best way to start!
Wait until you and your partner are both in a good mood and then bring up your dreams of a furry friend. A pet will change both your lives, so you want to start the journey with openness and honesty.
4. Create positive associations
If your partner had a negative experience with a pet growing up (maybe they were bitten, frightened, or lost a pet), then you can’t expect them to start loving pets again instantly. Take some time to ease them into the idea of adoption. You may start by looking at pictures of pets you like at local shelters, visiting shelters, or watching adorable pet videos like this one. Plan some playdates with your pet-owning friends so your partner can start to associate pets with positive experiences. Start small, and build up.
When you’re ready, try pet setting or dog-walking, and finally fostering a pet. Is your partner beginning to see the positive side of pet-parenting? If not, adopting a pet could lead to some strife in your relationship, so be sure to seriously weigh the pros and cons before coming home with the world’s cutest puppy.
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Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.
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