I have been seeing a guy for about two or three months, and I like him a lot. But there is a problem. He never wants to hang out at my house because he does not like my dog, Cha-chi. Cha-chi has been with me through thick and thin, and I love him more than anything. My boyfriend is OK with dogs, but he doesn't like Cha-chi because he gets overexcited when people come over. He calms down eventually, but the whole thing annoys my boyfriend to no end. This feels like a serious problem.
(female, age 26)
Dear Doggy Style,
Cha-chi is family and you two are a package deal. Your boyfriend is going to have to accept that.
Try to cultivate a relationship between them. It's likely that Cha-chi is nervous because your boyfriend, and any other new visitor, is unfamiliar. Developing that familiarity might calm your pup down.
You might also try using a Kong or other treat-filled toy to preoccupy Cha-chi while your boyfriend is over. That could keep Cha-chi busy and enable you guys to have some quality time.
If your boyfriend isn't up for compromise, this situation may be a deal breaker. A survey by Rover.com found that 54 percent of pet owners would consider ending their relationship if their dog didn't approve of their significant other. Though it's your boyfriend who's doing the disapproving, the result is the same: You have to choose between them.
Cha-chi may be a handful, but your boyfriend's reaction says something about him as a partner. Pets can be a litmus test for couples and their ability to compromise. Cha-chi is a part of your life, day in and day out. If your boyfriend isn't willing to accept such a significant part of you, who or what else will he reject out of intolerance?
Dog ownership can also be a litmus test for having kids. Taking care of a dog is a big commitment. It helps to be with someone who is willing to share in that.
Give your boyfriend a few more chances to get out of the doghouse on this one. If he won't budge, you may be barking up the wrong tree.