What’s more challenging to a couple: Getting their first dog, or having their first child? If you said “first child” – you’re in for a surprise.
That’s because a recent survey found that couples argue about their dogs twice as often as they argue about their kids. University of Chicago sociologist Dr. Elizabeth Terrien says that’s because most people form very particular ideas about how to treat a pet as children. And those opinions are incredibly hard to let go of.
For example, someone who grew up on a farm is likely to think of dogs as working animals – whose job is to protect the family. So, as an adult, they expect their dog to be self-sufficient and spend a lot of time outdoors. But someone who grew up in the suburbs is more likely to see a dog as a member of the family, and has the full run of the house.
And since a lot of couples never talk about their expectations before they get a pet – like they do when they’re having a baby – even simple decisions like, “Budget dog food or premium food?” can cause tension. So, before you get a dog, and find yourself disagreeing about whether it sleeps in the backyard, or in your bed, have a discussion with your partner.