man having face licked by a dog as woman laughs

Pets and Dating: New Relationships, Breakups, and More

Pets can add extra wrinkles—both good and bad—into dating and relationships. They can help attract other pet-loving potential matches, but they can also make things like moving in or breaking up a hair trickier.

Woo Them With Your Four-legged Friend

Dating and pets can go hand in paw. In fact, pets can make us more alluring to others. Have you ever watched somebody interact with their adorable pet and felt your heart melt a little? Pets can draw someone’s eye to us. Plus, they showcase our ability to love and care for our four-legged friends, which are attractive qualities.

Pets also make purr-fect conversation starters. They tee up easy icebreakers, like “What kind of dog is Molly?” or “How long have you had Gus?” Once the conversation gets going, you and your new friend may sense a chemistry that leads to an official first date.

Pets and Profile Pics

It can be helpful to include your pet in your dating app profile pics. Your four-legged friend might intrigue someone who would have otherwise swiped on by. At the very least, it can weed out people who have no interest in pets so you can avoid spending time on a person who wouldn’t have made a good match.

two men cuddling their dog in a meadow

Double Dating With Fido

Should you bring your pet on a first date? It depends on the person and the kind of date you have planned. If you’re going on a picnic in the park, grabbing a bite at an outdoor café, or visiting an outdoor sculpture garden, it might be great to bring your dog along.

It can be interesting to see how your date engages with your dog—and extra attractive if they have fun together. Be sure to give your date a heads up that your dog will be the third wheel. Some people have a fear of dogs and might do better with a gradual introduction. Others may have allergies and need to have an allergy pill on hand to avoid a reaction.

If your date is the one bringing a dog, you might want to pick up some treats or a toy for them. Your thoughtfulness can impress the dog and your date.

Did you know?

There’s a dating app specifically for people who dig a dog-centric life. If you’re looking to match with a fellow dog lover, might be worth a try.

Two Dog Dates

Bringing a dog on a date gets trickier if you and your date both have dogs you’d like to take along. Make sure you and your date agree on a plan for the meetup and keep a close eye on your dogs as they start to get to know each other. Gently separate them if either dog starts growling or seems uncomfortable.

If their first meeting doesn’t go well, it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for you and your potential mate. It may just take some time for your dogs to get used to each other.

How About Cats?

As far as our homebody cats, they shouldn’t be going out with you on any dates. But if you’re having someone over to stream a movie or enjoy some takeout, you may not be able to prevent your whiskered friend from joining you.

Before you invite your date over, ask them if they’re allergic to cats. If felines make them sneeze and itch, then you may need to vacuum carefully and keep your cat in another room while they visit.

It’s also a great idea to give the litterbox a good scooping and clean up stray hairs before they come over. You don’t want cat to be the first thing your date smells when they walk in the door. You also don’t want them to be covered in cat hair when they get up off the couch.

Quick Tip

Put a lint brush by the door, so your date can clean off any lingering pet hairs before they leave.

Possessive Pets

Nothing interrupts a romantic evening quite like a pet wedging in between you and your date. Or one that sits at your feet glaring at you as you two talk or maybe even try to sneak a kiss.

You can try ignoring your pet if possible or distracting them with a favorite toy. In some cases, it might be best to put your pet in another room until your date heads home.

cat being held by a woman in a gray sweater

Pets and Relationship Problems

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when pets are involved. Will you set up a schedule so you’ll both get equal time with Bandit? Or will one of you have to give them up entirely? Custody issues with pets can be as complicated as they are for kids.

If the pet belonged to one of you before the relationship started, it might make sense for that person to get full custody. Of course, this can add to the heartbreak if the other one has grown close to the pet.

If the breakup was amicable, you might be able to set up a schedule so you can both continue to care for the pet. If seeing each other is hard, you can ask a mutual friend to shuttle your pet between you. As tough as it is, sometimes it can be worth making a clean break even if it’s hard for one of you to give up the pet.

Fun Fact

According to the American Pet Products Association, there are 42.7 million households in the US with cats and 63.4 million with dogs.

Taking It To the Next Level

Are you ready to move in with your romantic partner? If one or both of you has pets, it’s more complicated than moving the furniture.

One Pet

It can be easier if there’s only one pet, and you or your partner have already forged a good relationship with them. In this case, you can concentrate on helping your pet get used to the new living situation. Here are some ideas that can ensure a smooth move with a pet:

  • Ask someone to watch your pet on moving day. It can get chaotic with lots of door opening and chances for your pet to slip out.
  • Make sure they know where their stuff is now, including food and water bowls. And show your cat where the litterbox is located to avoid accidents.
  • Try to keep your pet’s routine as consistent as possible. Take them for walks and feed them around the same time.
  • Surprise them with a new toy or a few treats when you bring them to the new place to make it a fun celebration.
  • Be patient as they get used to their new surroundings. It might take some time for your pet to get comfortable and come out of hiding.

If you notice concerning signs that last more than a few days, like refusing to eat or having accidents, you should talk to your veterinarian.

Two Pets

If you both have pets who haven’t spent much time together, you’ll need to focus on helping them get off on the right paw. How you do this will depend on the pet configuration and their personalities.

For instance, if you’re introducing a dog to a skittish cat, be sure to go slowly and follow the cat’s lead. It can help to tire the dog out with a long walk or energetic game, so they’ll be calmer when they meet the cat. Have plenty of treats handy for both the cat and the dog to reward them for good behavior.

You can also set up a kitty “safe room” with a gate in the doorway to keep the dog at bay. Make it comfy for the cat by decking it out with their amenities (food, water bowl, litter box, toys, etc.). This lets the cat set the pace for their budding friendship.

If there are two cats, you may want to keep them in separate areas of the house or apartment for a period of time. You can then use a double gate to distance them physically while they get used to seeing and smelling one another.

If you’re worried about bringing pets together, ask your veterinarian for advice. They know what your pet is like and might have some specific suggestions tailored to their needs. For instance, like recommending a pheromone sprays that can help soothe a stressed-out pet. They can also recommend an expert to help if the pets aren’t able to get along.

More Than Two Pets

Good luck with that! Just kidding. A houseful of pets can be a wonderful thing. But it might take more effort to make sure everyone stays happy and plays nice with one another. Like with two pets, take your time with introductions and be patient.

Whatever the situation, fingers-crossed, you’ll have one happy household in no time.


young family with two small children and a black dog on a meadow in autumn nature

The Cost of Owning a Pet

Adopting a pet should not be an impulse choice. Make sure to first do your research, save money, and understand the commitment of becoming a pet parent.

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