Betsy Rosenfeld, considered the go-to-girl when it comes to all things dog, delves into the importance of not letting dogs stand in the way of singles' romantic lives in The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner.
JV: What do you do when your dog doesn't like your date?
BR: If your dog generally likes people but just doesn't like your date, I think it's important to take note; animals have a sense about people. If your dog is usually friendly with new people but hiding behind your legs, snarling when at your new suitor, pay attention. But if your dog is generally possessive of you and unfriendly to potential suitors, you need to work on desensitizing the dog. Make him enjoy meeting new people; have your dates, friends who come over even the mailman give your dog a treat. Make him realize new people are not a threat, but in fact pretty awesome because they come bearing treats.
JV: What if your date doesn't like your dog?
BR: Some people need time to warm up to a dog, and that is understandable and you should allow for a bonding period. However if your date is disrespectful to your commitment to your dog, i.e., encourages you to leave him or her alone overnight "because, she'll be ok, it's just one night, or a few more hours," I think this a bad sign. Caring for your dog is part of you and, off the bat, they are showing you they care more about what they want than what you want.
JV: What if your dog usually sleeps with you but your date doesn't want him in the bed?
BR: Don't hate your date if they are uncomfortable with your dog sleeping in bed right off the bat. You may be able to bring them over to the dark side eventually, and in the meantime, get an ottoman or raised dog bed so that your dog can sleep next to you, just technically not on the bed.
JV: When getting intimate, bedroom door closed or open to the dog?
BR: I may love my dog, but let's get real; having a dog in the bed is not conducive to romance. So when the mood arises, it's a good idea to keep your dog separated from the action. For some dogs that means putting them in their dog bed on the floor and they will pass out oblivious to your activities. But others may need to be removed from the room and given a treat to avoid any crying at the door.
JV: How common is it for people to give up a pet for a relationship?
BR: It happens too often, particularly with women. It's a control thing and an important warning sign. If someone asks you to give up a beloved pet, what else are they going to ask you to change?
JV: How common is it for people to choose their pet over a relationship?
BR: A lot of people choose to stay home with their pet instead of getting out there and dating. When you think about the brutal world of dating, one can understand the impulse to avoid it and stay home with someone cuddly who thinks you rock (your dog). But it's not good for you or your dog. For you, you need to look at what's going on with you that makes you not want to connect, and for your dog it's not fair because you may eventually resent the dog as the reason why you're single
JV: What are the best breeds for singles and why?
BR: Don't get an Australian Shepherd if you're a couch potato in an apartment or a pug if you want a running mate. Getting an older dog is a really good idea for single people. Training a puppy is challenging and expensive. Getting an older dog that knows the meaning of the word no and who won't destroy your apartment when you have to go work is key. And one more thing... you may not be single forever and the dog you get as a single person now will eventually become a family dog when you have kids. Not all dogs are well suited for children, so take that into consideration when choosing a dog. I've help too many very sad people have to find new homes for their dogs once baby arrives.
Check out Rosenfeld's blog about all things dog at lovethydog.com