Discovering that the person you want to spend the rest of your life with doesn’t like your dog is not an easy situation. As any animal lover will tell you, a pet is like a member of the family. Ideally, your relationship will outlive your dog, but is being with your partner worth the strain to your relationship if you decide to keep your dog, and how will you avoid resenting your partner if you decide to give your dog up. This issue will potentially determine whether the relationship moves forward or dissolves.
So, What Does One Do?
Don’t ignore the problem. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your partner will bond with your dog eventually. Chances are good if there was no love from the start, then time won’t change that.
The first thing you will need to evaluate is whether you have a particularly difficult dog or whether you have a particularly intolerant partner. If your dog has behavioral issues and is challenging for most people to love, then perhaps you and your partner can reach an understanding that will allow you to keep your dog and your partner happy. Reaching an understanding does not mean compromising. Unlike most contentious situations in a relationship, compromise will not fix this one and it may become worse if you try to compromise.
You will need to accept that your dog is your dog and your dog alone. If your partner doesn’t like your dog, you cannot expect any assistance with feeding, grooming, walking or vet care. That means not asking for, or expecting, help in the form of time or money. It also means if your dog sheds, making sure you are the one doing most of the vacuuming. If your dog barks incessantly, consider bark collars or muzzle options. Make your dog as “invisible” as possible to your partner.
The situation is even more problematic if you are used to having your fur buddy in the bed with you at night. These situations escalate quickly! Couples often resort to absolutes: “It’s me or the dog” or “If you can’t sleep with my dog, don’t expect to sleep with me”. Before you decide you and your partner need to sleep in separate bedrooms try crating the dog at night or see if your dog is willing to adopt a new routine of sleeping in a dog bed on the floor next to you at night.
You and your partner may also be able to reach an understanding about your dog even if your dog is the sweetest, most adorable creature on the planet. Does your partner dislike all dogs? I know it’s shocking, but some people are not dog people, or cat people either.
However, if the problem is not that you have a difficult dog, you will need to weigh whether your partner’s intolerance could be a sign of things to come. If your partner is intolerant of your dog, what else might they be intolerant of in the future? If you give up your dog, does that set a precedent in which your partner will demand your submission for all conflicts in the future? How flexible do you want to be?
When your partner doesn’t like your dog you will find yourself trying to balance those two great loves. It is important to consider all the nuances of this barrier. Regard any possible way to bridge this conflict as a path forward, but bear in mind any concessions you make this early in your relationship may establish a pattern you do not want to endure or sustain in the future.
Other Articles of Interest: 5 Tips to Leave a Relationship that Just Isn’t Working
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