It’s the moment of truth. You’ve been dating someone new and you’re ready to take the next level. And by “next level,” we mean introducing them to your beloved dog.
You might expect the initial introduction to go smoothly, but it’s just as likely that it could go in the complete opposite direction. Your dog might be protective, abrasive, jealous, or even aggressive. To help prevent this from happening, follow these four simple steps to slowly introduce your long-time love, your dog, to your new loved one.
Step 1: Get your dog used to the new scent
This tip is also used by expecting parents who own dogs. Since your dog experiences the world through his or her nose, introduce the scent of your partner before you introduce your actual partner.
Simply bring home an article of clothing that belongs to your significant other. This can be anything from an old sweatshirt to a pair of socks.
Let your dog sniff the article of clothing, and follow up with a treat. Sure, your dog has likely smelled the scent on you before, but if he associates it with happy feelings, he’s likely to be more accepting of the new stranger.
Continue to give your a treat every time he smells the clothing.
Step 2: Schedule a meeting
After giving your dog time to get acclimated to the new scent, it’s time for the in-person meeting. Opt for a location that your dog will not feel protective over—a neutral territory like a park or a wide, well-lit trail.
Here comes the fun part. It’s important to let your dog make the first move! Have your boyfriend or girlfriend stand to the side of your dog without making direct eye-contact, and wait for your dog to step forward and sniff.
After the initial sniff, feed Fido a treat and continue to do this for the next few times.
Step 3: Don’t rush it
After the initial sniff, don’t let your date immediately plunge his or her hand down straight toward your dog’s face. Continue to talk with your date so your dog understands that it’s a safe environment.
You can even try to walk in the same direction together with Fido so he realizes the new stranger is no threat.
Step 4: The next steps
Before you and your dog separate from your date, hand over a few small training treats. Every time your pet comes over to say hello or sniff your date, ask him or her to feed a treat.
Make sure your date gets on a similar level to your dog and wait for the acceptance of the treat—don’t force it. This will help your dog associate good things with this new person.
Step 5: Continue the process!
Meet with your date on another three or four occasions at a neutral location. Repeat the same steps until your dog starts to warm up to him or her.
Try playing a fun game, like fetch, or go on a car ride together. After Fido finally warms up to your significant other, have him or her over for a quiet night at home, and remember to reward him with treats and praise for his accepting and calm behavior!
This quick video on how to introduce yourself to dog has some additional useful tips.
Don’t be discouraged if the relationship between your dog and significant other doesn’t click right away—it takes time. Follow these simple steps and before you know it, your dog will be happily sitting right between you and your date on a movie night at home.