When pets come between partners: 10 top tips to avoid the ‘it’s me or the dog’ ultimatum

Relationship expert Judy Cogan reveals the 10 most common arguments couples have over pets and how to avoid them.

pets and partners

Pets can bring endless amounts of joy to a home. But it’s not all blissful country walks and companionship.

Pets can often spark arguments about anything from general discipline to where they sleep at night and how much they cost to keep. “A pet can change your life and impact your relationship massively,” relationship expert Ness Cooper tells i.

“This often takes people by surprise and can challenge the shared beliefs you have established as a couple, causing friction. But often it is about embracing your new pet as part of your relationship.” Here, Cooper shares tips on how to avoid the “it’s me or the dog” ultimatums.

We clash over disciplining our pet

This is where the roles of good cop/bad cop often come into play. Couples will argue if they’re not on the same page with pet rules and routines. Discipline is important for pets, especially dogs, and you’ll all benefit from sticking to a consistent plan in the long run. It’s up to you to teach your pet where they can and can’t roam and what they can play with and chew. Make a room or area of your home a pet-free zone. Allowing your pet to be comfortable in certain spots will give you more space to relax as a couple.

I’m left to do all the dirty work

Having a pet can be fun and rewarding. But picking up dog mess in the park or changing the litter tray is less so. If one person is always cleaning up, patience will wane and tempers fray.

Navigate this by agreeing to a pet schedule dividing the time spent on your furry friend equally. But don’t just focus on the messy jobs. Make sure you both get to enjoy the pet with play routines, snuggles and activities to do together. Taking on its care as a partnership will give you a joint goal and strengthen your connection.

I’m always doing the early walks in the rain

No-one likes getting out of bed early on a cold and rainy winter morning. But this task needs to be split equally to maintain balance. Simply take it in turns. When it’s your turn, treat it like “me time” in the morning.

Choose a nice walking route, stop for a morning coffee or meet up with another dog walker to mix it up. If you really can’t agree, find a local dog walker or use a free app such as Borrow My Doggy to help avoid arguments.”

The pet was bought with an ex

Pets often pick their human and form an unbreakable bond. It’s natural to feel jealous if you’re the outsider, but if bonding with the pet doesn’t work, try to gain an understanding of your feelings and talk to your partner. If you are concerned the pet represents a past relationship dynamic, that might relate to deeper issues in your relationship. It’s important to respect your partner’s relationship status with their pet. Pets shouldn’t be seen as competition even when they pre-date your relationship.

Having a pet stops us being spontaneous

If you feel your pet has zapped the spontaneity from your relationship, have a rethink. Spontaneity is a mindset and the focus shouldn’t be on when romance and intimacy happens, but whether it’s fulfilling when it does. Planning can still be rewarding and allows for excitement and suspense to build.

Arranging regular doggy day-care days or stints in the kennels will give you time to be more spontaneous. And if you’re taking the pet on holiday with you, bring items to distract it when needed.

The responsibility is crushing

Caring for a pet can be overwhelming and young animals can be especially challenging. Feeling frustrated is natural. Your life has changed and, much like having a child, you need to accept this and give yourself time to adapt. But once you form new routines things will get easier. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family to help out if you need a breather and plan pet-free time as a couple to ensure your bond stays strong.

The cost of the pet is escalating

If one of you is overspending on doggy grooming, cute accessories and toys on top of essential costs such as food, bedding and vet bills, this can cause friction. You’d be surprised how many people don’t look at their finances before getting a pet. Try and work out a pet budget with your partner and look at areas you can claw back. Also remember the dog is not just for Instagram likes. It is a living creature with its own emotions. You don’t need to spend a fortune to make it happy and the rewards it gives you are priceless.

I hate the dog sleeping in our bed

A pet sharing your bed you can at best interfere with your night-time routine and at worse ruin your sleep patterns and sex life.

The pet might feel loved and safe, but it takes up space, pongs and leaves hair all over the duvet. Getting this comes down to compromise and setting boundaries. Who comes first, your relationship or your dog?

Talk about it and try a transition period to train the pooch to sleep elsewhere. Distract it away from the bed with toys and treats until it learns the bed is off limits.

The pet gets the most attention

A recent study found four in 10 adults admit to giving their pooch more affection than their other half. If the dog gets showered in treats and affection and sits in prime spot on the sofa at night, communicate your concerns to your partner in a positive way. Letting your partner know you enjoy snuggling up on the sofa and being close to them will renew your connection. If all else fails, accept the pet is here to stay and buy a bigger sofa.

The pets make the house dirty

If one of you is house proud or needs order to feel calm, messy pets running riot can be a sensitive issue. You both need to compromise by learning your hygiene thresholds in the home and respecting them. Sharing cleaning equally each week or hiring a cleaner can reduce conflict. Learning healthy ways to deal with conflicts is key, because pets pick up on tension and often react accordingly.

(Article source: Inews)

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