Do you have furkids? Are your pets your babies? We all love to nurture our pets. For many of us, pets are like our babies, even when we have children. But what about when your pet is truly your furkid? When pets are the only kind of babies that you are ever likely to nurture, what questions does this throw up? Can we ever be too devoted to our pets?
Setting up home as a couple is fun but once you’ve chosen the furniture, cooked meals together and snuggled up on the sofa, what next? Many couples are not yet ready for the human baby or may have decided to opt out of baby-making altogether. The pet becomes an obvious choice for sharing your coupledom with.
We also know that Millennials are particularly likely to forego parenthood of the humankind, in favour of furry family friends. They may even forego partners, in favour of a more faithful feline or devoted doggy.
When you live alone, it is your choice how you interact with your pet but when you are a couple, you have the other human’s partner’s thoughts and feelings to consider. Some furkid parents can even become a little extreme in their levels of devotion and may worry if their relationship with their pet is not perfect.
Questions that furkids owners have:
- Is it OK to let our pet sleep in bed, between us?
- My partner does not want to leave the pet home alone, so we never go out together. Is this OK?
- Is it OK that my partner kisses the dog more than he kisses me. Is this normal?
- My cat does not like my partner as much as he likes me. How can I make my cat love him more?
- Is it Ok to have sex in front of our pet? Will they be traumatised if we put them out of the bedroom?
Yes, as an animal behaviourist, I have been asked ALL of these questions!
As I see it, questions like these mean that owners have truly bonded with their pet. When their relationship with their partner is under threat, however, or when one partner begins to question the way their spouse treats their pet, this can create significant relationship discord.
Tips for ‘fur kid’ owners
The following tips should ensure that all relationships, human-to-human or human-to-pet, continue harmoniously:
- Ensure your pet’s needs are taken care of. Bling outfits, for example, are not as important as a collar and name tag.
- Set rules and boundaries together, as a couple. If you both want your pet to sleep on your bed, great. If only one does, then you may have to make compromises and have the pet by your side on the floor or only sleep with you when your partner is absent.
- If your partner has a habit that you do not agree with, negotiate a workable solution. Allowing your dog to lick their hands may be more acceptable than doggy kisses.
- Encourage your partner to feed and care for your pet more often if you need them to bond more closely.
- Continue to work on your human relationship. Have nights out with your partner, perhaps leaving your pet with a pet sitter. And yes, your pet can be shut out of the bedroom or, at least, placed on the floor! Give them a toy or treat to occupy them.
Remember that it is ok to love your pet as much as you do. Although, not everyone loves your pet the way you do! Look after their needs and the needs of your partner and furkids are fun!