What does it mean if my pet doesn't like my date?

By Katherine

Your furbaby is the light of your life - until another human catches your eye and steals your attention. At least, that's the way your pet sees the situation. How very DARE you bring another being into THEIR space to take up all your time and possibly relegate them to sleeping gasp somewhere other than in your bed with you?

Look, a normal amount of jealousy and adjustment is inevitable when you're seeing someone new. It's up to you to introduce your pet to your new partner in a gentle, sensitive way. And it's your date's job to win your pet over and understand that it might take time.

But what if the two of them just don't get along? Is your date a bad guy and your pet is the only one who can sense it? Here's why your pet might be showing their disapproval of your new hookup.

They know when you're nervous

Pets are highly attuned to their owners' emotions and they can pick up on your subtle cues. In fact, your pets might sense you're uncomfortable or tense before you can identify these feelings yourself. Your pet might simply be mirroring the energy you're putting out - or desperately trying to hide. Pets KNOW.

Similarly, they also sense when your date is nervous, uncomfortable, or putting out some negative energy, so they might be responding to this in kind. Is your date acting shifty? Your pet might be trying to give you a heads-up.

They're used to routine and this is out of the norm

Your pet knows you and your routine. Their little internal pet clocks know when you get up to go to work and when you'll be home to put food in their bowl. So when someone new comes along and disrupts the routine, this is extremely confusing. Suddenly, their predictable little world - which revolves around the two of you, naturally - has been disrupted. And they don't like it.

Maybe they've had a bad past experience

It's possible your pet has had a negative experience with strangers, even before they came to live with you, and remembers this - and this means they might be more cautious and guarded around new people, or even want to defend their human from potential threat. Your pet might need to be socialized a bit more, or might just not be able to get over their anxiety and trauma - and you need to be aware of this and sensitive to it.

Look, they just don't like him, okay?!

Pets have their own preferences and personalities, and they don't get along with everyone. Just like people! Your pet and your date might just have conflicting personalities, or energy levels, and this might be a cause of tension.

So what can you do about it?

Pay attention to your pet's body language and behavior around your date. If they display signs of fear, aggression, or avoidance, it may indicate that they're uncomfortable or feeling threatened, and you need to keep them separate from your date until you have the time and energy to devote to socializing them.

This isn't permission to lock your pet in the laundry room every time you have a date over. This is a temporary measure while you take stock and try to figure out the next steps. Because it's not fair to your pet, or your date, that the problem doesn't get addressed. As a responsible pet owner, it's your job to sort this out.

Building a strong bond with a pet takes time and effort, and your date may need to invest in building rapport with your pet before they feel comfortable around them. Encouraging positive interactions, such as offering treats or playing together, can help foster trust and familiarity between your pet and your date. Does your pet love to go for walks? Bring your date along for "family" walkies so your pet can have the experience of doing something they enjoy while the spare human is along.

Ultimately, it's essential to observe and respect your pet's feelings and reactions to your date while also considering your own comfort level and the dynamics of the relationship. If your pet consistently displays signs of distress or discomfort around your date, it may be worth exploring the underlying reasons and addressing any issues that arise. Don't force it - if your pet isn't adjusting, or if your date isn't putting in the effort, consider that you might need to skip bringing your date back to your place. Because let's face it: Chances are, your pet is gonna be around far longer than your hookup... At least, that's what your pet thinks.

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