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The first time you introduce your dog to your date can be a make-or-break moment in any relationship. You want the two of them to get along — after all, you like them both, probably a lot. So, is there anything you can do to help your new significant other make friends with your furry BFF?
It is important for your dog to have a positive relationship with your significant other. A relationship with a dog owner is typically a package deal: Your boyfriend needs to understand that your attitude is love me, love my dog.
I was fortunate in this respect: My Pugs liked my husband, Ben, from the very start, and he was easily able to make friends with them. More importantly, the fact that he understood and appreciated my devotion to my dogs made all the difference to me. It may take your dog a while to warm up to your boyfriend, but if your boyfriend is willing to make the effort, that says good things about his commitment to your relationship.
We may trust our pet’s reactions to people, and while they are often accurate, it’s not realistic to expect your dog to make your dating choices for you. A dog cannot necessarily differentiate on his own between people who are friendly and those who may pose a threat. In fact, your dog may respond negatively to your boyfriend, not because he’s a bad person, but because something about him is unfamiliar to your pooch.
Dog trainers like to joke that a tall man with a beard and a deep voice will scare the living daylights out of a dog, especially if he’s wearing a uniform or a hoodie or a hat. And if he’s riding a skateboard? Forget it. You’ll probably wind up with a terrified dog.
Of course, this is only partly true. Your dog may like men with beards, but be uneasy around men with glasses, especially if most of your male friends sport beards, but not glasses. A dog is most likely to be comfortable with people who seem familiar to him — so if your boyfriend looks dramatically different from all the other men in your life, this may make your pooch nervous. If your dog tends to treat anything out of the ordinary as dangerous, your new boyfriend’s height, voice, facial hair or clothing style may seem like a threat.
For this reason, it’s important to expose your dog to lots of different kinds of people in a positive, safe way. Encouraging a dog to bark at some men and make friends with others can create an unpredictable and potentially risky situation for everyone involved —and it can make it harder for a potential date to break the ice with your pooch.
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