Pets and Dating: How to Make Everyone Get Along

It’s finally time to bring your new love home to meet your beloved pet.

What happens if Fluffy or Fido dislikes your love interest? Here are a few steps to arrange a good first “date” for your pet and partner and how to fix a less-than-perfect first introduction.

Start on neutral ground

Your pet already knows you’ve been seeing someone special. Each time you come home from a date, your pet gets a whiff of your new partner. Unlike introducing your pet to a complete stranger, hopefully there’s already a level of familiarity. If you have a dog or cat who feels strongly about his or her territory, start on neutral ground. For a dog, meet at the dog park or on a hiking trail. Let your dog approach first and have a fun day out together. If you’re a cat person, instruct your date to sit somewhere non-threatening (for example, not right next to your cat’s tree) and allow your cat to approach and sniff as much or as little as he wants.

Integrate your date into the routine

If it feels like this one might be around for a while, it’s time to start integrating him or her into the routine—but only the fun stuff at first. Head out on walks together. Allow your partner to feed your pets. Take pups on trips to the park and entice cats into a fun game of chase with a teaser toy. The key is to keep it fun.

If it doesn’t start well, slow down

For a long time, my friend’s dog would chew up her out-of-town boyfriend’s bathroom stuff—toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream, the works—each time he came to town to visit. Some pets may not appreciate sharing their person with a new guy or gal right off the bat. If that happens, take it back a couple steps. Focus on fun outings in short bursts. Encourage your significant other to spoil your pet with his or her favorite things. Shorten the duration of interactions, if possible, and leave items with your partner’s scent on it around the house.

Never underestimate the power of a bribe

Treats, toys, special dinners, whatever it takes! You know your pet comes first, but if you’re hoping this love interest is around for the long haul, well, it’s worth extra goodies here and there to make it work.

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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