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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Date Me? Date my Dog

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

Enjoy an Activity Together
Absolutely. Isn't this a parallel to dating someone with children? You better be sure you're ready to take on the whole package, or you're most certainly wasting your time. Here's a few tips for choosing your dates carefully. These are intuitive little ideas I've gleaned from my days as a dog owner, dog lover and aficionado. They are of course, intended for a like-minded person to use when getting acquainted with a potential significant other.

First of all, if you find yourself interested in someone that absolutely hates dogs, reverse course and say "Adios!" Trust me. The effort needed to turn this person around will outlive the dog that is the reason for it. Life's too short. Move on.

When your new friend comes to your home for the first time, watch for any uncomfortable or awkward behavior with regard to your dog or his things. Does your guest brush the fur off the couch before sitting or push the dog away when he approaches to get acquainted? These behaviors are perfectly acceptable most anywhere--church, an office, the bank. However, when your friend visits your home, you'll want to see a comfort level that you can at least work with--a willingness to learn why this animal behaves as it does, and how they should return it's affection without going overboard just to impress you.

Be keenly aware of how your date dresses when knowing that the dog will be joining you for an outing. I once witnessed a young woman who visited the dog park with her date for the first time. She was wearing stillettos and a sundress made of silk. The pawprints on her chest were probably not what she had in mind when she left, scraping the mud from her heels on the fence. Doubtful this relationship lasted much longer.

Don't get me wrong. Many of my visitors don't understand that dogs need to sniff them. They may find it appalling, if not grotesque. If you understand that this is how a dog gets acquainted, it does not seem quite so unacceptable.  Try to be a patient educator if your student is an interested one.

Some guests may be willing to learn, others not so much. If they are open to getting an education, great! Go for it. This is your chance to show this potential new friend another side of the world; take them for a walk on the canine side, while sharing some of the nuances of doggie communication and handler leadership that are so crucial to a successful relationship with a dog--and you.

Let's face it, if your new girlfriend or boyfriend lets the dog walk all over him or her, or exhibits ownership over you when in the presence of the dog, it's going to be Game Over very quickly. If you like this new friend, give him or her a fighting chance. Offer them a copy of Be the Pack Leader, or another similar book and let them know by your actions that this dog is the center of your world. If they care enough, they will attempt to enter with understanding and a modicum of effort.

A couple of final thoughts. If things are just going along okay, but you think there could be a bit more spark, perhaps you need to help Fido and your new friend bond. Based on what you know your new friend enjoys, choose some activities that will be fun and easy to enjoy together. 

Perhaps your girlfriend would like to learn to give commands to your Rottweiler--great! Or maybe the new guy in your life wants to try out his softer side by dressing up your Chihuahua. Go shopping and let him pick out something HE likes. Remember, the name of the game is for your date to get some excitement--a sense of fun--out of your dog. That's what it's all about; now go Fetch yourself a really good date, one that you and Fido can both enjoy. In the long run, it is best to find someone that can enjoy your first best friend along with you. Happy tails!

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Kristine said...

Fantastic tips, I gotta say. Fortunately my husband loves animals just as much as I do so this isn't a problem for me. Hopefully it never will be. But I have a friend who isn't so enamoured with dogs and who is also dating a man who happens to own one. The poor dog has come between them numerous times, unfortunately. It is a big issue, especially once things get serious. I can see things devolving into an ultimatum situation. Since I know where I stand, I don't think I'd be even interested in anyone who didn't love dogs at least half as much as I do.

K9 Coach said...

Such a great article and hopefully someone in the situation will take note. If the person is the way they are now, and can't deal with a dog near and dear to your heart, don't expect them to change! Ever. :)

I once had this situation actually happen to me.... man I was dating (years ago) sitting in my living room chair watching my tv. My dog came in laid down beside the chair with a ball in his mouth. Man asks me, "Does the dog always have to be in here?"

My reply, "Actually, do you see that hallway there?"

"Yes", man says with lilt of hope showing that I'm going to tell him to put the dog out....

"Well, you might want to head down it and take a left to the front door yourself... cuz, yes... the dog is always going to be in here!"

Moral of the story, my life partner who I waited a few years to find... loves "our" dogs and our life together... and that's not going to change. :)

Anonymous said...

My hubby grew up with cats so when we got Oscar, it was a new experience for him. I had dogs all of my childhood (couldn't have imagined growing up without them) Love me - Love my dog. So, so true.

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