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September 24, 2013
by Casey Truffo, LMFT

Are Pets Causing Problems in Your Relationship?

September 24, 2013 04:57 by Casey Truffo, LMFT


Is your pet coming between you?Believe it or not, one common source of problems in relationships is a pet. In fact, many couples find themselves arguing over their pets for a variety of reasons. While these arguments may seem minor and not necessary to sit down and address, the reality is that they can, overtime, cause more major disagreements or problems. As such, both finding out if it is your pet that is causing the rift between you and your partner and then figuring out a way to handle these issues can be critical to maintaining a healthy relationship.

Most Common Disagreements About Pets

Every relationship is unique, which means that the disagreements that a couple has over a pet will vary from couple to couple. However, there are certain arguments that do tend to crop up more across multiple couples. These include:

  • One partner is spending more on or more time with the pet. Financial issues can become a major problem when it comes to a pet, especially if your budget is already tight.

  • How to train the pet. Typically, this manifests as one partner wanting to only use positive reinforcement and one wanting to use a combination of positive reinforcement and punishment.

  • A pet’s poor behavior or behavioral problems.

  • Where the pet should live, both where that location is in the house and whether it should be inside or outside.

  • Who should clean up after the pet.

  • Letting a pet on furniture, from a bed to a couch. Although there are many other disagreements that may arise regarding a pet, these tend to be the most common that cause relationship problems.

Signs that Your Pet Is Causing Strife

While any pet can conceivably cause relationship problems for a couple, dogs are the most common culprits, as they are both more high maintenance than other pets and the most commonly owned pet. In fact, according to The Telegraph in 2012, a study showed that dogs can cause around 2,000 arguments over the period of its lifetime with a family. As a result of this and the amount of care that a dog needs, owning one is often compared to having a child.

One fight over a pet does not equal a major relationship problem. However, you might want to take more notice if you start noticing the following signs:

  • Recurring fights over the same relationship problems related to your pet

  • Fights escalating in intensity

  • You distance yourself from your partner when talking about or dealing with your pet

  • One partner refuses to deal or help with the pet

These signs could indicate that your pet has become a more serious problem in your relationship. And, if you are noticing these signs in your relationship, you are likely wondering exactly what to do about it.

How to Address This Relationship Problem

When you have determined that some of your relationship problems do, indeed, stem from your pet, figuring out how to address this problem becomes the next step. Of course, how you and your partner fix the problem or the steps you take to resolve the issue will depend on the exact reasons that your pet is causing relationship problems; however, you may want to consider some of the following ways to address this issue:

  • Figure out what the exact problem is and the exact reason why that is a problem, i.e. what that problem means for you and your relationship

  • Separate the animals actions from your partner

  • Discuss the issue or issues with your partner and try to find compromises on your problems. For example, if you can’t agree on how to train the animal, try taking it to a trainer instead, removing the problem from your immediate hands.

  • Create a schedule or write down any agreement you reach. This is particularly helpful when you are disagreeing over who cleans up after the pet, takes the pet outside, and other physical tasks that need to be completed.

If you and your partner try these techniques for working through your relationship problems regarding your pet, but they do not work, you can seek more professional help from a marriage counselor or therapist. For those in the greater Los Angeles area, we have offices within reach.  Let the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you.  Call us today at 949-220-3211, or book your appointment online.

You can also seek guidance from close friends or even community groups to help you get some ideas for how to handle such an issue. The most important part is that you and your partner are working on resolving the relationship problems that have cropped up due to your pet. While it can be difficult to address problems regarding a beloved pet, it may become likely that your relationship depends on it. 

About the Author

OC Relationship Center OC Relationship Center, LMFT

You deserve to feel better - in your life and relationships. At OC Relationship Center we want to help you find more love, more joy, more peace...and less conflict and less stress. Our licensed and caring counselors can help if you are single, dating, married, divorced.

OC Relationship Center can be found at
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