It seems like there’s a pretty direct correlation between people who love dogs and people who love babies. Although preparing for a baby (or even using these fertility apps) is a liiiiiiittle more intense than getting a pet with your partner, the nesting processes have a lot in common. Therapist Laura Heck makes an argument for co-parenting a pet with your partner to see how you both will fare when it comes to rearing an actual human being. If you both pass the pet test, you’ll get a fuzzy friend AND a baby out of the deal. And (bonus) you can use these adorable pregnancy announcements featuring your pup or kitty to celebrate your new brood.

couple with dog

“Having a pet with a significant other is a test to see if a person will be a good caretaker for another living thing,” Laura says. “It allows you to answer a tough question: Is this someone I can have children with?”

Laura says that she’s had many clients and friends use the “pet test” as an important step couples make the to develop their relationships. Some people even lay out custody rules for the pet in case of a breakup to keep things as realistic as possible. Honestly, we know people are genuinely worried about their fur babies.

In this way, having a pet together mirrors having a child: While the end goal is shared happiness in caring for a living thing, bringing a pet into your home “brings up important conversations that are good for serious couples to have,” Laura says. Co-parenting a pet opens the door for discussing styles of care, finances and household tasks in a way that other shared responsibilities cannot.

Adopting a pup or cat can also be therapeutic for some couples and individuals — particularly those who have a tempestuous relationship and are thinking about kids. Pets, especially dogs, can even teach humans healthy habits of touch and can contribute to healing. In fact, Laura says that some veterans use service dogs to combat the mental health effects of PTSD.

So whether you’re in need of a mental health pick-me-up or simply a third, fuzzy buddy to share a bed with, getting a pet with your S.O. can do so much more than just up your Insta game.

Have any tips for new pet parents? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)