You and your beau have put in the time together … the time it takes to get to know if you both want to move forward in the relationship. Things are looking good. The next step, living together, is on the horizon. Only two things are stopping you from making that move: your dog and his cat.
Maybe you haven’t thought things out completely and jumped right into a shared household with Fluffy and Fido in tow, hoping for the best. Now you’re regretting not thinking things through a little more because his cat is terrorizing your dog (it can happen) or vice versa and the house is a war zone.
Or … your nose is raw from sneezing, you’re going through several boxes of facial tissues a week and you’re miserable because you’re allergic to his cat.
A new mixed household of people and animals isn’t the same as a mixed household of all humans … but that’s a whole other story.
You might make light of the problems you encounter or expect to encounter, but the relationship dynamics of you, him, and your pets can be serious. It could even destroy a relationship. Let’s examine some of the dynamics.
Now that you’re in a relationship, it may be harder to give your pet the same amount of attention. Their routine might be disrupted – whether you are moving into another house or your sweetie is moving in with you or you’ve found a brand new place to live.
Are you owning up to the possibility that he doesn’t care for Fluffy or cats in general? Is he? Are you admitting that you’re not so fond of dogs – or Fido in particular? Does he know that?
Could he be jealous or intolerant of the time and attention you give to your pet? Do you resent his pet for the same or similar reasons?
Is there a possibility that you’re both accepting your furry friends now but that down the road, patience could wear thin and either of you could have a change of heart?
Your Pet’s Issues
A pet is as likely to be set in their ways as you are in your human relationship. Dogs and cats like routine. Their old routine can be disrupted. Eventually, they’ll settle into a new routine, so don’t be too quick to “throw in the towel” and decide it’s not going to work. Watch for warning signs and have patience.
Will your pet have the amount of space and the same access to rooms in the house and the yard? Beyond adapting to a possible new living space and new feeding and playtimes, your pet is also adapting to a new owner and possibly another pet. Maybe your respective pets are jealous of the other person in the household? If they aren’t getting as much one-on-one time, they may be angry at anyone in the household. They may not like to share attention.
How will you handle pet skirmishes? How would you feel if he loses his temper with your dog for trying to harm his cat? What will you do if you if the pets can’t get along? Will you have to keep them permanently separated? How?
Maybe the situation isn’t so volatile. Maybe the pets are coping reasonably well on the surface. But are they really? Animals don’t show their emotions in the same way that humans do. You might not be reading the signs of friction correctly. You could be dealing with one depressed cat or one stressed-out dog.
Maybe the unfamiliarity of the relationship and the animals not adjusting creates a double-whammy. If you’re not happy, your pets can readily pick up on that and they can become upset too, for that reason alone.
Looking at It Rationally
Neither of you would consider parting with your beloved pet in order to create the peaceful home sweet home you so desire, right? They are a part of your family. You’re a package deal: pet and pet owner … or would you? If your attitude is, “My pet is part of the package deal,” you both have some work to do. If he’s asking you to choose between him and your pet and you pick him, you could someday resent the sacrifice, not to mention the emotional harm you’re putting your pet through by giving them up.
Logically, the question to ask one another is, “Is there a way we can all adapt?”
Figuring out What’s Wrong
Be honest with each other. If something bothers you about his pet or vice versa, get it out in the open. Is either of you jealous of the other’s pet? Whatever the exact cause, address it right away. Emotional wounds can fester.
It’s important to assert your right to maintain your relationship with your pet. A lover who demands you choose between him and your pet may not be who you want to develop a relationship with.
Keep a close eye on any changes in the behavior of your animals – and your mate. Without stability and consistency, your pets can feel stressed, depressed, anxious. They may exhibit bad behaviors which are basically acting out as a result of something or someone new, another animal they’re not familiar with, and even affect their physical health.
Maybe it’s just a case of your pets getting over the unfamiliar situation or another animal “invading” their territory. Pets are creatures of routine. They need to feel secure in their environment day after day. They need to know what to expect from you, your mate, other animals that are introduced into the home. This helps them have a positive attitude and be able to handle other changes.
You and your mate need to consider as many possibilities of what can go wrong and come to some agreements about how to handle them.
· Keep feeding, walking, and toileting times the same, if possible and their environment as consistent as possible.
· Look for easy fixes or workarounds first; then move to more involved ones. Maybe a little redesign of living spaces can keep the peace.
· If it’s an allergy issue, more frequent animal bathing can help a lot; so can frequent handwashing and not touching your face after petting can help. Research pet allergy preparations. If those don’t work, perhaps allergy shots. You need relief and your mate will appreciate that you care that much for him to seek solutions.
· Ask for help from your vet. They see animal-human issues all the time. You could be proactive and discuss all the things that could go wrong before you and your partner move in together.
· Hire a pet therapist to identify the problem and guide you, your sweetie, and your pets to good rapport and put a stop to destructive behaviors.
· One of you finds another home for your pet. This is the least favorite option and one that can have far-reaching consequences. Think long and hard on this one.
Work It out Now
Some pet problems are unforeseen. Some issues develop over time. When they do crop up, they need to be dealt with immediately. You will reap the rewards of staying on top of the pet situation. Everyone, including your beloved pets, will be happier and you can look forward to domestic tranquility.