What to expect when your new partner meets your dog

You and your new partner are at your favorite Mexican restaurant enjoying the salsa and chips when that nagging, persistent question pops into your head. Is it time? Brushing the crumbs off your lap, you look at him scooping up the last bit of salsa.

“I think it’s time,” you say with confidence.

“You were right, this salsa is good, I’ll flag the server,” he says, smiling.

“Yes, and no, that’s not what I meant. I would like you to meet the other man in my life,” you say, smiling a little too broadly.

He gets it. You’re talking about your dog.

“Okay, I’m game,” he says. ”Can’t wait to meet the little guy.”

And so the next big step in many new relationships begins – introducing your dog to your new partner.

Planning and patience are key elements in a successful dog-new partner relationship. I talked with my friend Shannon about how she introduced her beloved Barney, a Francis Kennels rescue who will be 5-years-old in September, to her new partner, Mike.

Some experts suggest waiting a little while. If you would decide after the first date or two that it just wasn’t a good match, then the brief encounter could confuse your dog when you introduce another new partner weeks later.

Shannon explained why she decided to wait before introducing Mike to Barney, saying, “Mike and I had been dating around three to four weeks before I had Mike over to meet Barney. I remember telling Mike that by meeting Barney, he was meeting my son and that I did not take it lightly, that it was a big thing to me since Barney is like a son to me.”

“I knew that Barney is a great judge of people and character, so I knew that if Barney liked Mike, then chances were that Mike was a good guy!”

Many authors, such as those at puppilovers.com, feel a new partner who is also a pet lover or has had previous pet-owning experience is more likely to bond quickly with your pup than someone not fitting that description.

Shannon was fortunate. Mike had not only been around animals growing up, but he had pets as well. His grandparents had cats and his dad had a parrot named George who could say each of the family members’ names, “hello” and “pretty bird.” His family also had three Labrador Retrievers named Sadie, Sam and Grace. Mike felt closest to Sadie and spent the most time with her.

When introducing your pet to this new person, make the experience rewarding. Puppilovers.com explains, “Routine plays an essential role in an animal’s life. Hence, creating the habit of giving your pet a treat every time they encounter your partner fosters positive associations.”

When Mike first met Barney, he handed the pooch a couple of treats. Barney happily gobbled them up.

Generally, building a relationship between your dog and your new partner will take time. The first impression is important for both, but don’t push for a long relationship. When you give your dog time to adjust to the new partner in both of your lives, most resistance will melt away.

“I think Barney understood that Mike was now part of our family a few weeks after he had first met Mike,” Shannon said. “I was upstairs and Mike was downstairs and I noticed that was the first time Barney had chosen to stay with Mike instead of following me. I came downstairs to find Barney in Mike’s arms looking as comfortable as could be.”

I asked Shannon how Barney showed his acceptance of Mike.

“Barney adores Mike and is his shadow,” she said. “I feel that’s how he shows his acceptance of Mike. The rare times Barney gets scared or frightened, he runs to Mike as if saying, ‘I trust you to keep me safe.’”

Mike said, “Barney and I are very close and continue to grow our relationship every day. When Shannon is out of town or not home, we call it the boys club and just hang out. He is my shadow.”

A few weeks ago, I saw photos Shannon had posted of Mike carrying Barney. The trio had been on a walk and the heat had been too much for Barney. Without hesitation, Mike scooped the dog up and carried him home.

“Barney did not resist the help at all,” Shannon said. “He accepted it instantly and just appeared so content in Mike’s arms. It’s happened a couple other times since then, and Barney is always willing to accept the lift.”

Barney and Shannon both have a new man in their lives. And they’re both happier for it.

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America and The Cat Writer’s Association. She livers with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at spicerkarin@gmail.com.

Introducing your cat to your “new” partner usually isn’t as involved as with a dog. Cats usually take to someone new or not. It’s important to keep your cat’s routine. You don’t want the cat to associate your new someone with being disregarded or left out. At first, keep his things, such as a jacket, someplace where your cat can’t reach. Your furry one marking the foreign scent with its own isn’t a good way to start a relationship for any interested party.


About the Author