You've fallen in love and nothing can interfere with your new budding relationship until you meet the dog.
Your initial introduction with Dog goes terribly awry. Instead of tail wagging and face licking, he greets you with growls and snarls of aggression. Is there couples therapy for dogs and new significant others? Dog likes the mailman and the UPS driver. So why do his hackles go up at you?
Winning over your partner’s new pup is much like trying to impress your future in-laws—it’s a relationship that requires time and nurturing. Before despair sets in, review these tips and revel in a newfound furry friendship.
• Retreat, Reacquaint, Renew
So the first introduction didn’t go well. You physically retreated with Dog’s initial greeting, so an emotional retreat seems appropriate, too. Try re-introducing yourself to Dog, but this time on neutral turf. How about a park? Anywhere is fine as long as it's not at Dog’s home. He is protective and territorial, and he sees you as a trespasser. Have your “Meet & Greet” in a quasi-Switzerland and watch neutrality provide positive results.
• Bow – Wow
Bow down to Dog on his level. Establish those ground rules by literally getting down on the ground and then wow him with his love language—a Frisbee, a tennis ball, a peanut butter stuffed Kong. As long as your partner gives you the go-ahead, pack your pockets full of treats. The dog will soon equate your presence with treats, quickly moving you up his ladder of affection. The sooner your competitor (and that’s how Dog views you) can change his perspective, the sooner you will be able to carry on your human love connection.
• Speak the Right Love Language
Healthy relationships require time and attention. Once you’re allowed on the sofa (but not in Dog’s favorite spot, of course), invite Dog onto your lap (assuming he is not a St. Bernard), and give him a rub behind the ears. Other ways to heighten your appeal? Become his primary food distributor, engage in fun interactive games (fetch, fetch and fetch!), assume pet routines and duties and best of all, get to know him.
• Teach Your Children Well
Dogs are trained to follow a pack leader, so be that leader. Make eye contact and stay the course. Your significant other can help by immediately nipping any aggressive behavior in the bud. The sooner Dog learns that you are his new Alpha (or at least his Beta), the happier life will be for you both.
• Dog Eat Dog World
Despite your best intentions, it is possible that Dog will just not learn to like you. A dog’s trust and respect are not always automatic. And even the best-laid plans can’t guarantee that his canine heart will be won over.
In the end, if your human love relationship is worth continuing, Dog may have to permanently move in with a friend, a cousin, a neighbor. Beware of the possible resentment this might provoke on the part of your significant other; both of you must agree that this is the best choice for your future as a couple.
Hopefully, with dedication and effort, you will find yourself enveloped in a happy and accepting trio: your significant other, Dog and you. And you’ll feel like Top Dog.