My Dog is Ruining My Love Life!
Updated: Jun 20, 2020
I knew things were getting serious with the girl I was dating when she had me meet her dog for the first time. Her dog meant the world to her. He was in all of her Instagram pictures, the main topic she bragged about on our dates, and even had a copy of her dog’s tag on her key chain.
“This is Scooby” she greeted. A miniature poodle came running at me and we soon became best friends. Every time I’d come over, he’d run up to me with a big doggy smile and often followed me around the house. But, as Scooby’s mom and I continued dating, he became what seemed possessive.
Every time I shared a kiss with my girlfriend, I was greeted with Scooby’s sharp canine teeth and high-pitched barking. My girlfriend assumed he was guarding her, but every time we stopped kissing, he became the happy-go-lucky dog that we knew. This became worse as we continued dating. Just a long hug would trigger this response. Was he just guarding his mom? Was he just jealous that I was becoming his mom’s main man? There could be a simpler explanation for this behavior and if you and your spouse are tackling this situation at home, these four areas are worth looking into.
1. Our Dogs Are Splitting a Perceived Threat
Dogs don’t really understand hugging and kissing the way humans and primates do. Studying dog interaction, when two dogs have a potential conflict, an outsider dog may spring into action by walking in between the conflict. In an attempt to deescalate the perceived conflict, our dogs may be trying to split us apart once they see us becoming too close.
2. Attention Seekers
It’s worthy to note that some dogs love attention. This is normally followed with tail wags, light barking, jumping, or face licks. You may experience the dog being pushy as they pry their way in the middle of you two. Of course, the dog isn’t being protective of either one of you. This is simply a demand for attention when they see the opportunity.
3. They Are Being Protective
Some dogs are protective of their owners. This may stimulate a low growl, teeth showing, lunging, and sometimes even making a contact bite. This is simply the dog communicating that it wants space and not sure how to get it. You will see this behavior generally in anxious or insecure dogs. A lot in dogs that weren’t socialized to people during puppy-hood are just giving a severe warning that they are fearful.
So, what is there to do in this situation? Punishment may worsen this behavior and leave the dog confused. Punishment also has the potential of ruining yours and your dog’s relationship despite the reason why it originally started.
1. Counter Conditioning and Desensitization One way to stop your dog’s unwanted behavior is to simply reward the small steps that you want to see. We must understand that humans hugging and kissing can stimulate fear in dogs, which is why they act out. So, rewarding the smallest behavior movements that lead up to you and your partner hugging will help him a lot. This means to give your dog a treat for your partner putting his arm on you. After consistent reinforcement of this, increase to the next step of having you and your partner get a little closer. Every time you and your partner lean in to each other, your dog should receive a delicious treat. If your dog seems a little tense or being vocal you are going too fast. Decrease the steps to only what the dog can handle. With time and practice, your dog will learn that you and your partner hugging is associated with good things.
2. Deferential Reinforcements Another way to ease your dog’s behavior is to reward an incompatible behavior. For example, having your dog go to his “place” will get him to do something else besides focusing on you. Once he gets to the mat, give your dog a deliciously filled Kong toy to keep him busy when you two get intimate. A dog needs structure. This includes giving you space during your alone time with your partner. After many repetitions of this, this will become a habit for your lovable pup as he realizes there’s not something to worry about and actually something to enjoy.
3. Seek a Trainer Never put yourself in harm’s way. Seek a professional trainer if you feel like you and your partner may be in danger of a bite. Guidance from a professional trainer would also be able to help you break down the dog’s body language to help you understand why the dog is doing what it’s doing.
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