This month we are looking into the fun topic of co-parenting. Married with pets or dating, sometimes co-parenting a pet can be both fun and tough at the same time.
A typical scenario I see - a young couple gets a new puppy who may just mimic a child in the not so distant future. There’re so many decisions being made, even before the puppy or kitten comes into the household. What breed? Adopt or buy? Reminders of childhood pets? Who will do most of the care? The list is endless. Once the decision has been made to get a pet together, often as a stepping stone to a family of their own, then that’s when the fun begins… kind of. You know those annoying things you and your partner can’t agree on like choosing a restaurant, times that by 10 with decision making around new pet ownership.
My advice is that once you both agree on the breed of dog or cat (see my previous blog posts about choosing the right pet) do as much research as you can into breed-specific needs and characteristics. If you have all the facts in front of you then you will be less likely to put your own emotions first and make more objective decisions that will benefit your pet. Assign feeding, walking, training, playtime, bath time and vet visits from the start so that the pet becomes bonded to each of you. Unlike cats though dogs need a leader of the pack. Establish this early in the right way so that your dog is calm and easily trainable. I do recommend crate training, if done correctly, as an excellent tool to help establish a confident, independent puppy from the start. Over the course of your dog or cats’ years, there will be many decisions to be made from what to feed, de-sexing, different treatment options when they are sick. Just remember one thing. A pet is for life, do what is best for them to the best of your ability. Embarking on a journey through pet ownership is fun but can be daunting at times both financially and emotionally. Invest the time to look at pet insurance and find a great vet from the get-go, this will save you a lot of heartache down the track especially when they start as your first fur-child. Keep in mind when kids do enter your family life, dynamics change and the original fur-child often gets pushed down the list. Try and remember this when making that first decision to get a dog. They too are a family member and will bring you a lot of happiness if the right decisions are made early on.
If you happen to be the owner of a pet already and you’ve started dating someone, how will you best introduce that person to your pet? It sounds silly but it’s true! Single dog or cat owners are often highly bonded to each other, especially if living alone. When a new person enters that partnership, it can place strain on both relationships. Entering into it with a pet already, means that pet has to share his time with a newbie. Often the pet can ‘guard’ the owner, become overprotective and separation anxiety can surface as the pet is left out of the bedroom or house. My tips here? Well just don’t date anyone who doesn’t like animals for a start. Seriously though, if your pet is a big part of your life then let your new partner know early. Yep, spam him or her with pictures of you and your pet so that they understand the type of owner you are from the start and don’t end up resenting your pet for sharing your love. In the very first meeting with your pet, ask your partner to bring your pets favourite treat. Meet up on neutral turf so that your dog isn’t defensive over his home. It sounds silly but once you know your partner is an animal lover let your partner spend time with your pet so they too can start a friendship, try not to be overprotective. Do activities together and encourage your partner to come along to puppy class or agility or something special you and your pet like to do. Cats are different and as we all know cats own us, we don’t own them so you will know if she wants to be left alone and not troubled by yet another ridiculous human. Interactions will always be on her terms.
Pets are such a BIG part of our lives and trying to make the best decisions can be hard sometimes. Have fun, love your pet and always do the best you can!