Love Me, Love My Dog

So you’re in a new relationship. He’s great – she’s amazing. He calls when he says he will and she’s a great cook. She’s just made partner and he can fix anything. Best of all? You both worship your dogs. When it comes time to blend your canine families, a smooth transition will ensure a seamless journey for everyone.

By the time the two of you have decided to come together as a couple – which could mean moving in together or just spending time at each other’s house – it’s important that you’ve logged some critical time with each other’s dog. And, that you’ve conveyed to your partner how important your pet is to you.

Relationship expert Amy Leigh Mercree and author of “The Spiritual Girl's Guide to Dating: Your Enlightened Path to Love, Sex, and Soul Mates” says that communicating the special place your pet has in your life is crucial when a new relationship gets serious.

“Your pet is an important part of your life and sharing that is authentic – part of being yourself – and revealing the real you, pets in tow, is enticing and essential in a new romance,” says Mercree. “Model the truth that your pet is a member of your family.”

Just as you and your partner got to know each other through dates and shared activities over time, Mercree says, you should also do that with each other’s dogs.

“Your dogs need some “dates” to become friends too,” she says. “After getting to know the dogs and bonding with them before, bring them together – that way when they meet, it will just be one new dog but two people they each already know.”

Tips for Blending People and Pets

Mercree’s tips for blending people and pets include the following.

  1. If your pet is a key part of your life, bring that into your relationship early.
  2. Our pets sense what is right for us on an instinctive level – if a pet has negative reaction to a potential suitor, listen to that feedback the same way you would from a good friend.
  3. Consider each pet’s personality – help your partner get involved by signaling to your dog that this is a person with whom he’d love to bond.
  4. If your pet is aloof but loves a tummy rub or snack, tell you partner when it’s tummy rub time and invite him or her to partake of that activity.
  5. Dating is best when it happens organically – so be open to dating people who do and do not have pets.
  6. Gauge compatibly of potential partners -- pet-free but loves animals is great – allergic to pets or doesn’t like them, be realistic about that.
  7. Ultimately your partner should love your pet because you do – settle for nothing less.

Once you bring the dogs together, Mercree suggests an activity that dogs already love – like going for a walk.

“Think ice cream, doggy treats, sunshine and open grass and do this periodically as your relationship progresses,” says Mercree. “If you get to a point where you move in together, the dogs will already be fond of each other and the transition will be that much smoother.”

A shared love of animals is something Mercree says can really up the ante on an emotional connection.

“Caring for a pet together brings out people’s nurturing sides and is a window into the care-giving ability of a potential life partner, plus, because animals open our hearts and share unconditional love with us, someone who exchanges love with a pet has had practice loving and caring,” she says. “These people are primed for emotional connection and if both partners are in that space, then a deep heart connection can flourish.”

Just as it is customary to bring a snack or gift when you’re getting to know someone on their own turf, a great way to break the ice and make your partner’s pet more comfortable is not to show up empty-handed. Check with your partner about their dog’s diet, and then collect a few suitable products. I’ve included some great choices below. A tasty treat is the perfect ‘happy to know ya’ gesture and will surely signal your partner’s pet that you have his best interests in mind – and heart.

Keep them chewing: Deer antler chews

For the big dogs: Merrick’s “The Tank” meaty beef knuckle bone

For a grain free-treat: Duck flavored Sojos

Had a pet make or break a relationship? Do tell!