Desperately wanting to get a dog is one thing, but when your partner is less keen, how do you persuade them? As someone who was that partner, I have some tips
When my wife told me that she wanted to get a dog, it wasn’t an immediate “Yes darling”. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, but there are other things I like too, such as spontaneity, travel, going out, having money, having room in bed. And, because of how my brain is wired, it immediately fast-forwarded to the devastating day I’d have to say goodbye this beautiful creature that I knew I’d adore.
So while I liked the ‘idea’ of getting a dog, I had plenty of misgivings about the reality. My wife saw dismantling these misgivings as a challenge. She employed several tactics, some more effective than others, but eventually we got out beautiful cockapoo Brewster.
Now, this doesn’t mean I was wrong—pretty much all of my misgivings were fully justified—but I have no regrets because the negatives have been heavily outweighed by the positives. So what she did not only worked but was a Good Thing. If you’re in the same boat she was and want to persuade your partner to get a dog, here are some pointers—from a man who was happily defeated by them.
Sell the emotional benefits of getting a dog
This was a big selling point for my wife. She knows I’m a big softy. This dog would give unconditional love and endless entertainment (even when he was sleeping), no matter how much of ass I was. I have depression and anxiety, so she said he’d cheer me up when I’m sad and calm me when I was tense. This turned out to be true and I can’t begin to explain the mental health benefits of having to walk your dog every day. But I should warn that there’s a flip side—when you love anything this much it can cause its own kind of anxiety. So maybe don’t mention that part.
Sell the physical benefits of getting a dog
This helped sway me a lot. I’m fairly health-conscious, pretty fit, so anything that did good things for my body was a winner. Studies show that dogs help us live longer. They improve our heart health by lowering blood pressure, encourage exercise, and generally make us move more.
Sell the social benefits of getting a dog
This wasn’t a big part of our discussions, but it should have been. Having a dog expands your social circles and help improve social skills. If you’re shy, it gives you something to talk about, to friends or total strangers. Pet parents are drawn to each other, they’ll stop and chat. We got Brewster not long after we moved to a new neighborhood and most of our local friends are people we met walking him. We even socialize without the dogs! Oh, and it’s been proven that having a dog makes you more attractive. If that doesn’t work on your partner, nothing will.
Tug on their heartstrings
Tell them how much getting a dog would mean to you, without laying it on too thick or being annoying. Also, use social media to drip-feed images of adorable pups into his consciousness and hang out with friends who have dogs. It’s very hard to resist.
Ease their worries
I had all those misgivings and my wife addressed most of them. Ok, some of her assurances turned out not to be 100% accurate but in her defence, she wasn’t to know. Find out what’s worrying your partner, then find answers to those worries. If it’s medical bills, point out that you can get superb pet insurance at good prices. If it’s the travel, tell them that you can get house-sitters while you’re away, often for free. If it’s the going out, research dog-friendly bars and restaurants, but also look for local dog-walkers and sitters.
Tell them how good a parent they’ll be
This bothered me. We don’t have kids and the responsibility was a big worry. What if I was a crappy pet parent? I was going to be the center of this wonderful animal’s universe. If your partner feels the same, reassure them. Just say something like: "Yes, there’ll be tough times and mistakes and you’ll hate yourself for getting annoyed with them, but they’ll forgive you. Just try your best and give them a lot of love. And cheese."
Bargain with them
You can promise to take responsibility for certain tasks, such as grooming or poop-scooping. And don’t underestimate the power of offering non-dog-related incentives. Maybe suggest some quid pro quo with something your partner really wants and you’re not sure about.
Find the right breed of dog for your partner
This was important to me. I didn’t want a slobbery dog, I didn’t want a dog that sheds, I didn’t want a small dog, I didn’t want a huge dog, I didn’t want a boring dog or a stupid dog. I also wanted a dog I could go running with and one that had a good life expectancy. Cute helped, too. Cockapoos ticked all those boxes. Brewster even smells good.
Prepare them for the bad bits
Ok, this won’t apply to everyone but the thought of love and loss really bothered me. Part of me felt as if it was mad to get a dog and become incredibly attached to them, knowing that I’d probably outlive them. But my wife pointed out that a dog doesn’t worry about stuff like that. Brewster just wants to have fun, eat, love and be loved. As crushing as it’ll be, we’ll know that we gave him a really good life. I’ve even turned my fears into motivation and comfort: whenever I can’t be bothered to play with him or have to go for a walk in the rain, I play or go. And when I get the chance just to lie on the bed with him for a few quiet minutes, I relish it. I want to make the most of every minute.
Don’t throw a hissy fit if you don’t immediately get your way. Don’t badger your partner. Don’t go in with big, heavy plays. My wife worked on me for two years, beginning when we lived in an apartment that wasn’t suitable for a dog so that, when we moved to a house with a garden (and a dog-flap) I was on the verge of breaking. A few months later and it was a done deal. Patience is a virtue.