You love your pet, and you love your partner. So the two of them should love each other right? Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. If your pet doesn’t like your partner, it can make both relationships difficult.
And while your pet might come around sooner or later, sometimes there can be a serious bonding problem. You might even feel like you’ve been given an ultimatum and need to choose between them.
You might be surprised to hear that 64% of people in a UK study said they’d choose their pet over their partner. Our own research saw 27% of Kiwis admitting to loving their pets more than their partners, and over 43% saying they loved them both equally.
On the other hand, you could be like this Australian woman, whose online dating profile specifies that any potential partner should definitely NOT have a pet.
But regardless of whether you’re team partner or team pet, if you have both, it’s obvious that the best solution would be for them to kiss and make up. Then everyone can cuddle on the couch together.
Here’s how to get there.
My pet doesn’t like my partner. Why?
It’s important to remember your cat, dog, or even bird doesn’t hate your partner. It’s not a personal vendetta. Even if it feels like it sometimes.
We humans have a habit of saying things like “my dog is ignoring me because he’s upset that I told him off two days ago” or “my cat likes to wake me up at night because I wake her up when she sleeps.”
But pets don’t reason or think like humans. Although your partner might find it difficult, the first step is to stop assigning human emotions to your pets.
Some of real reasons your pet doesn’t like your partner could include:
- Protectiveness. Some pets are protective of their owners and are suspicious of any (and all) newcomers.
- Territorial behaviour. Your pet might be feeling a bit protective of their space – especially if your partner always meets the pet at your home
- Past experiences. Your pet might have had a bad experience with someone who your partner reminds them of. This is especially true of rescue pets
- Jealousy. Have you started lavishing more time and attention on your partner, and less on your pet? They might be jealous.
- Personality match. If your partner is a different type of pet parent to you, a sensitive pet might find them too loud, aggressive, or intimidating. Or too smothering!
So what can you do about a pet that doesn’t like your partner, for the sake of everyone in the relationship?
How can I help my pet like my partner?
You’re painfully aware your pet doesn’t like your partner. And you want to fix it. As in yesterday. There are loads of things you should try to improve the situation, right? Wrong.
Many pet parents try too hard to force a relationship. If your cat doesn’t like your partner, putting her on your partner’s lap isn’t going to suddenly foster a lifelong friendship.
Sometimes, you need to try less and let them get to know one another in their own time.
Some ideas to help your pet like your partner
Before you start taking corrective action, here’s what you can try:
- Don’t rush introductions. Just like you needed time to get to know and trust your partner, so does your pet. Bring your partner on dog (or cat!) walks or over to your home for shorter time periods to start with. Then gradually increase the time that pet and partner are together.
- Take an item of your partner’s clothing home. No, it’s not so you can wear their comfy hoodie or PJ pants. It’s so your pet can get used to their smell.
- Ask your partner to ignore your pet. We know, it feels mean! But it’s best for your partner not to touch, talk to, or pat your pet initially. Let them act completely indifferent, so your pet can go to them when they feel ready.
- Give them space. Make sure your pet doesn’t feel confined or cornered with your partner. Always check that there’s an easy way for them to leave the room if they choose to. Keep doors open, let your partner sit away from the exit, and so on.
- Food related bribery. The way to a pet’s heart is often through their stomach. So if your pet doesn’t like your partner, try having them take over the feeding of meals and treats.
When to get professional help
Sometimes, professional help is needed. If you have dogs in particular, you might need to call in the big shots if the relationship deteriorates.
Although it’s important to give your pet and partner time to adjust, if your pet becomes aggressive or attacks your partner, it’s time to take action to ensure everyone’s safety.
If your pet hasn’t attacked your partner but you think they might, we have a few articles which can help you to interpret their body language and behaviour:
- Is My Dog Scared?
- Why Do Dogs Bite?
- Cat Body Language Decoded
- How to Speak Dog
- Understanding Cat Behaviour
It can be difficult to identify why your pet is aggressive. There are a lot of behavioural factors which need to be considered. It could be fear, pain, or any other number of reasons.
But regardless of what type of pet you have, aggression should always be tackled with the help of animal behaviour specialists. Get one local to you so you can easily meet with them, and enlist help before things go downhill.
If you’re unsure, your vet can be the starting point for this journey – they should know what direction to point you in.
Peace for everyone, including you
Once your pet and partner have made peace, there’s another type of peace we need to talk about. Peace of mind.
Get a free online pet insurance quote and enjoy peace of mind of by knowing your best friend (the pet, not the partner) and your bank account are both protected.