couple with dog

If you want your significant other to celebrate a birthday or holiday by adopting a puppy, before you run out to your local shelter or dog rescue, it’s important to remember that a puppy is a living creature that will need to fit into your lifestyle.

When you adopt, you’re making a commitment to provide for that dog’s needs for its lifetime. It shouldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision, and it’s best if you actually discuss it with your partner instead of trying to spring the puppy as a surprise. Finding the right fit should involve both of your input — and not just guesswork about what your partner may or may not want in a canine companion.

Sad that it will spoil the surprise? It doesn’t have to. You can wrap up many other items that will still get your partner just as excited about the new addition: a photo of a puppy that you’re considering, a collar, a gift certificate to a local shelter, and even a bag of dog treats.

In fact, part of your Valentine’s Day together can involve heading out to select the right match! Here are some tips for how to choose a dog as a couple.

Share What Traits You Want in a Dog

This is always a good first step. You may find that you both have very different ideas of what adopting a puppy or dog would mean. Maybe one of you wants a small companion to cuddle up with while watching TV at night, and the other is looking for a large hiking partner. You may have to make compromises to find the right pup, so come up with a wish list together.

Discuss Caring for the Dog

Who will walk the dog, and when? How will you pay for medical expenses that come up? Will you have a professional groom the dog or do it yourself? These are the kinds of details to work out now for a smoother transition.

Consider Both of Your Energy Levels

It’s important that you and your partner are able to establish yourself as a pack leader to this new pup, and that’s a lot easier to accomplish if the dog has a similar or lower energy level than each of you. Your dog should be compatible with whichever of you has a lower energy level.

Do Your Research

Even if you don’t want a purebred, understanding the traits and special needs of different breeds can help make the selection process easier. Many dogs available at dog rescues and shelters may be of multiple breeds, so take the time to look up all possible breeds just to get a sense. You can even do this onsite if you have a mobile phone.

Take the Dog for a Walk

It’s likely when you initially meet a dog you are considering that he has been cooped up in a kennel or crate for a while. This can make it hard to get to know the dog’s energy level, but one good place to start is with a nice walk. Both of you should take turns holding the leash, and take note if the dog behaves differently with one of you.

Revisit That Wish List

Even if it’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to fall in love with a pup that’s not the right fit for you. So take a step back, and read that wish list you developed together. Does this dog match your needs and wants? Certainly, your emotions play a role in the process of dog adoption, but they shouldn’t be the primary force. Stay objective, and remind yourself that if you don’t find the right dog today, that’s okay. You can come back in a week or visit another organization. It’s better for all three of you if you don’t rush into the wrong decision.

Is your dog a rescue? Share a photo of the furry love of your life here.

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