Introducing your significant other to your dog is really interesting if you take a step back and think about it. The moment is actually rather huge because in no other circumstance will you just expect the two most personal relationships in your life to automatically form their own relationship so you can live happily ever after. There’s a lot going on, especially on your dog’s end.
For me, my dog Bruce does this bit where he stares at my suitors from across the couch and places one very deliberate (albeit cute) paw on my knee to say “she is mine.” It’s super sweet and of course no relationship will ever change our bond, but I don’t want my dog to think there isn't enough of me to go around. I can’t help but wonder how we can make this whole relationship thing fun for all of us?
Here are some ideas from my own experience on how to make the intro as positive as possible - for everyone involved.
// Meet each other in a neutral place
Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming to have a new person enter your dog’s territory, aka your home, especially when you’re dealing with close quarters in a huge city like New York. Meet at the park or even a coffee shop and establish a positive relationship in a place that your dog has zero ownership over. They’ll feel less threatened and that’s a way better foot to start off on.
// Let your dog be the one to approach
No one likes anyone all up in their grill from the get go - including dogs. Let them decide when they feel comfortable enough to sniff out the situation and approach. In some cases perhaps your dog is on the defensive and acting as a barrier between you and your date. It’s cute that they’re protective, but it’s not good for them to feel the stress that comes with that especially when there’s no danger involved. By making it a practice to acknowledge them on your terms it will help alleviate some of their stress to gain control over the situation.
// Have special meet and greet treats
Dogs make sense of the world through associations. For example, if he can associate “when this special person is around, I get a special treat. I like those special treats a lot!” then suddenly they’re so on board with your new found love too! Giving your dog the special treat shouldn’t just happen the moment they arrive though. Make sure to reward them every time they show signs of acceptance like eye contact or asking to be pet.
// Let them go on a walk BY THEMSELVES
I know whenever I let anyone leash my dog he is very confused. He’s constantly looking for me wondering if I’m leaving him. Because that level of concern is a little unhealthy anyways, I do want him to learn to trust others that we spend lots of time with. Have your partner take the reins next time you go on a walk. Show them that when this person is around they can trust that you won’t leave because this is your wolf pack! If you’re feeling really confident down the line, let your love take them for a walk by themselves. That way they can establish a deeper one-on-one trust and ultimately their own relationship!