Dating pet owners: don’t neglect the animals

dog in bedDo you remember that research which suggests having a pet can reduce the chances of finding love by 40%?

Well, assuming you can find someone who’ll put up with your pampered pooch or kitty, there’s some advice on how to handle the pet when you’re embarking on a new relationship.

“In the old days, you had to meet the mother. Now you have to meet the dog and get the dog’s approval,” said Stephanie LaFarge, director of counseling services for the ASPCA and an expert on the human-animal bond.

She suggests that a bad first meeting with the animals can be as bad as getting the first meeting with human relatives wrong.

Both sides in a new human relationship need to make an effort.

The pet owner needs to forewarn their new partner of any foibles the animal might have. Getting a cat’s claws sunk into your lover’s arm because you forgot to mention that puss doesn’t like being picked up is not likely to aid a blossoming relationship.

Similarly, though, it’s worth being prepared if you’re starting to date someone with animals. Even if you think you know animals, every creature is different, just as we humans are.

Stephanie also notes that, as and when a human relationship develops, issues over hygiene and physical intimacy (between pet and humans, that is) are likely to surface. These need to be dealt with as they come up, and in fact can be quite telling about a person’s character overall.

“How a person handles these conflicts can be very revealing, said Joel Gavriele-Gold, a clinical psychologist and author of “When Pets Come Between Partners.” “You learn a lot about the other person and how they deal with relationships,” he said. “Is it based on control or cooperation?”

Got any tips for dating when there are pets involved?