There’s no need to fret if your dog isn’t head over heels for your new puppy love. We talked with an expert dog trainer to get her take on how to minimize the problems that can arise when you bring home a new boyfriend.
Jaime Van Wye is an expert dog trainer and the founder and CEO of the dog agility gym Zoom Room, so she knows a thing or two about dog-related problems. According to Van Wye, there are a couple of steps you can take to create a friendship between your dog and your boyfriend, even if the initial relationship is rocky.
What’s your type?
There may be something about your boyfriend’s appearance that causes alarm for your dog, or he may just have an aversion to a “type.” For instance, if your dog is scared of men with beards or baseball caps, your boyfriend can easily put your dog at ease by tweaking his appearance until the dog is more comfortable. But when a dog has an aversion to a “type,” it can prove a little bit trickier to change your dog’s innate fear. If your dog is scared of men in general, you and your boyfriend will need to team up to address the dog’s fear head-on.
Train away fear
If your dog fears a “type,” Van Wye indicated that you and your boyfriend can train away your dog’s fear by using a simple trick she calls “hot dogs from the sky.” Keep small bits of hot dog with you when your boyfriend visits your place. Drop the bits of hot dog to the floor as soon as your boyfriend and the dog start interacting, and keep dropping pieces intermittently throughout the visit. This method will help the dog begin to associate your boyfriend with “hot dogs from the sky,” which will quickly address your pup’s aversion.
Use the crate for security
Sometimes dogs aren’t afraid of a new boyfriend as much as they’re insecure with a change in routine. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to infuse security into your dog’s day to help her feel more at ease with visitors and late nights. Of course, only use techniques that your dog actually finds calming, but Van Wye recommends using a crate for short periods of time to calm your dog’s nerves. Also, try to keep on schedule as much as possible by still taking your dog on daily walks and feeding her at the same time every day.
Make your boyfriend special
If you’ve tried reducing fear and increasing security and your dog is still nonplussed with your boyfriend, you can tweak behavior further by making your boyfriend a gatekeeper. Van Wye suggests that you stop providing your dog with all the things she enjoys — like walks, car rides, fetch and food — and instead have your boyfriend provide all of these creature comforts. It won’t take long for your dog to learn that your boyfriend is the gatekeeper of all the things she enjoys, which will help build a relationship between the two.
Stay consistent with your discipline and Van Wye’s recommendations, and also remember that your dog is going through a tough transition when you bring home a new boyfriend. Try to stay patient with your pup as she acts out, and also provide occasional one on one time to make the process easier.