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If the problem is just disinterest, that’s not a biggie. If there’s a bit of tension between the two of them, that is probably also not a huge issue. But what if it’s outright hostility? Someone could get hurt. So what are you going to do? Obviously you want the two living beings that you care about most in the world to get along. Can it happen?
Well, probably. But you have to identify the source of the dislike, and work on it. Sometimes it’s simple jealousy, and that’s usually easily dealt with. Other times, the source of the animosity may run deeper, and you might have to get creative.
This is a no brainer. Your dog wants to bond with you. Much of the time, you and only you. So, you have to find out if this issue is due to jealousy, or to fear of other people. Often, dogs will react fearfully to people because of bad socialization. Imagine, for instance, that your puppy was raised in a household of women, and never exposed to men. Usually, men are bigger and taller than women, and they have deeper voices. All of this can seem very strange to a puppy who has been raised with women. Your dog is a) jealous of the intruder and b) fearful because the intruder does not look like the people that he or she is used to.
Dogs often perceive aggression where none is intended. If you significant other leans forward when approaching the dog, he might react fearfully. Adopting a more neutral position can help.
If you discipline your puppy in one way, and your significant other uses another method, it can confuse the dog. I don’t want to slag men, but the fact is that often a man will see a means of correcting behavior as involving punishment. A woman is more likely to use positive reinforcement. If the dog is confused, then it is likely that he or she will react badly to the person who is causing the confusion. Consistency is the key. Oh, and by the way, I really don’t recommend punishment as a means of training or disciplining. Positive reinforcement is always best – catch your dog doing something right, and then offer praise. Don’t be confrontational.
If you really want your significant other to get to know your dog, and love him or her, show them how to interact together. One of the best ways is through play. Does your dog already know how to do a trick? Can she sit and wait for her toy to be thrown to her? Show your SO how to do this. The dog knows what is expected, and so does he, so they can interact together. Later on, they may want to learn other tricks together.
If your dog shies away when your significant other is petting him or her, work with words. You already know how you touch your dog, so add words to the interaction. Say “pet” when you stroke her. Then, have your significant other approach her using the word “pet.” If your dog hears familiar words, he or she is more likely to respond favorably.
Here’s a really funny story. A friend of mine had an English Mastiff named Oberon, Obie for short. He was basically a sociable dog, but my friend had a bit of a problem with him. One night she invited her boyfriend over for a spaghetti dinner and a nice bottle of wine, and Obie, who was usually just fine with visitors, positioned himself between my friend and her boyfriend, showed all 97 of his teeth, and made it very clear that there had better not be even one more step forward.
My friend’s boyfriend sat down in a chair, and as anyone with a grain of sense would do when faced with 200 pounds of snarling English Mastiff, didn’t move another muscle for the rest of the night. Obie kept snarling, and the boyfriend just kept on sitting like the smart guy he obviously was.
So, what was the problem with Obie? It was the wine. My friend had handed her boyfriend a glass of wine, and that’s what set Obie off. Of course she didn’t know that at the time, but in a conversation with Obie’s previous owner, she found out that a family member had once become overly inebriated at a Christmas party, and frightened Obie by being loud. Obie was afraid that my friend’s boyfriend might also become loud and obnoxious, so he was reacting accordingly.
I should mention, though, that sometimes your dog and your significant other are just never going to get along. Maybe your dog is perceiving something that you don’t see. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but from my perspective, I’ll take my dog over a romantic relationship every time. It’s like they say – you can always get another man. A good dog is harder to find. Just something to think about when you’re deciding who you really want to snuggle up with on a cold winter night.