Imagine it: you bring your new love interest home after a romantic dinner and your dog, who you expect to be overjoyed, is sullen, sad, or even angry about this new character in your home. Your friends and family approve, but what are you supposed to do if your faithful canine companion isn't so thrilled with your new partner? For many pet parents, a pet not liking a love interest can easily be a deal-breaker. Fortunately, it doesn't have to come down to that so quickly. By taking a few simple steps to thaw relations between the two, you all may enjoy a happy household in short order.
Why Your Dog Doesn't Like Your Love Interest
As with most problems, the first step to solving this one is understanding it. If you've been living with your dog as a single person for quite some time, it's likely that your pup is used to being the center of all of your attention. Because of this, it can be shocking when you bring someone else into the house, especially if your dog sees you being affectionate with a person he perceives as a stranger. In many ways, your dog's reaction is much like what older children go through when a new baby is born in the family. These reactions can be compounded if the presence of your new beau shakes up the dog's routine. For example, if you always allow your dog to sleep in bed with you until your new partner comes around, it's likely that your dog will feel put-off and lonely.
Teaching Your Two Loves to Love One Another
If your dog is hesitant to greet your new partner happily, follow these tips:
- Build a positive association. The first step to making your dog feel less cast-aside is to ensure that he builds a positive association with your new beau. To do this, lavish your dog with affection whenever your new partner comes around. Encourage your partner to feed the dog treats and pat him if the dog is willing. Don't rush things, but do provide plenty of positive reinforcement for Fido in the presence of your new partner.
- Set boundaries. If your new relationship is getting serious, you'll need to set boundaries with your dog. For example, if he sleeps in bed with you every night, it's time to start weaning him to a dog bed. In order to make this as stress-free as possible for your dog, however, do it when your partner isn't around. Purchase a dog bed if you don't already have one, and when Fido tries to climb into bed with you, redirect him toward the dog bed on the floor. Be patient as this lesson is likely to take some time.
- Meet your dog's needs. If you become so wrapped up in your new relationship that you stop walking or playing with your pup, things are going to get bad quickly. Instead, focus on continuing to provide your dog with all the love and attention that you did before and encourage your partner to participate in walks and playtime.
While your dog won't adjust to your new partner overnight, these simple tips can help you warm relations between your two loves.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.