When your Partner Gives More Attention to a Pet Dog than to you

Obsession with pet dogs, particularly in countries like the United States, is a growing phenomenon. It may have been brought about by disintegrating family structures and increasing physical isolation among human beings but it has been happily indulged by commercial manufacturers of pet-centric products. Unfortunately when this obsession begins to replace actual human companionship, then it becomes a problem. So when your partner gives more attention to a pet dog than to you, here a few ways to help you deal with the situation.

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But before you jump to the conclusion that you are living with a pooch-obsessed partner, it may help to confirm that it is indeed so. Here are some clues for you to find out:

The most obvious sign is a partner who spends more resources on a pet dog than on you or even themselves. Your partner will think nothing before buying dog furniture or getting a custom-tailored wardrobe for their pooch. Likewise they will happily splurge on organic pet food while settling for dinner out of paper boxes for themselves. Ever the dog’s haircut is likely to cost more than yours or your partner’s.

The second most definite sign that your partner is pet-obsessed is when they are spending more time with their dogs than with you. They might have had a grueling day at the workplace and a rough commute but they would still be energetic enough to walk the dog in rain for at least an hour instead of going out to pick groceries for the household. Again they would not think twice before planning a weekend picnic with the dog rather than a day trip with you to the nearest beach or health resort.

Finally when you find your partner’s bond with their pet dog supplanting all forms of human interaction especially with you, you know you have a problem at hand. They may be sleeping on the couch so that the dog can have the bed or worse asking you to rough it out too at their place so that the dog’s routine is not disturbed. Your partner would probably have more picture of the pet dog in their wallet or on the screensaver than of family and friends. Incredibly enough your partner will even turn down social invites or avoid vacation destinations where dogs are not allowed.

So then what can you do when you are up against such a powerful rival for your partner’s affections? The first step would be to take a deep breath and promise yourself that you will not give in to the temptation of poisoning your partner’s dog. It is perfectly understandable for you to feel that way if the dog is sleeping between you and your partner on the bed or if you see your partner first sampling the dog-food to see if it tastes good before giving it to the pooch. But remember that if you start yelling and calling names, you will be up against two adversaries – the pooch and your partner – instead of one. So keep your cool and do what you have to in a calm, orderly way.

For starters you can have a 'me-and-no-doggy' zone if you share a home with your partner so that your comfort space is not mucked up with doggy drool, mud prints or doggy hair. You can also separate your bank account if you have been holding a joint one with your spouse if you don’t want to watch your hard-earned money being spent on luxury pet spa sessions, gourmet doggie cookies and 30 dollar doggie toys. Make it clear to your partner that while they are welcome to indulge their pets, you are not to be expected to share your dinner with them or go out at two in the night because they have run out of their favorite doggy snack.

However as all partners of die-hard dog lovers know, it doesn’t help to force them to choose between you and the mutt because if the obsession is really bad, they just might settle for the latter. Rather try to work on the core cause of the situation – the dog. Explain to your partner that pampering a pet dog can nurture its insecurities and lead to behavioral problems like house soiling, separation anxiety, excessive barking and sometimes even territorial aggression. Persuade your partner to take the help of a dog trainer so that the pet can be trained to understand who the boss in the house is. This will not only make the dog better behaved and fun to have around but at the same time allow your partner enough leeway to show it off to friends and family.

However if you believe that your partner’s obsession with their pooch stems from a personal situation then you might need to look at what is going on with him/her. An empty nest after the kids have grown up and moved out or acute loneliness post divorce or a breakup can create situations where a person finds more satisfaction in canine rather than in human company. If you are unable to bring things into perspective for your partner, it would be better to seek professional help. This will not only benefit your relationship with your partner but ultimately that of your partner and their pet as well.