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Couples’ top pet-related arguments — and how to solve them



Many couples argue about whether to let pets on the bed. (iStockphoto)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re hoping to bring a little peace to pet lovers and their (human) companions.

When we asked our Facebook fans, “Do you and your significant other fight about your pets?” many said yes. Here’s our advice on handling your most common pet-related arguments.

Fight #1: Should you get another pet?

If one of you doesn’t want to get another pet, sorry to say, the other has to respect that. Too many pets end up in shelters because all the members of a household
are not on the same page. If you’ve got the urge to bond with new pets, volunteer with a shelter or rescue group.

Fight #2: Should your pet be allowed in bed?
Find out what really bothers the person saying “no” and see if you can compromise. Does he or she hate cat hair on the pillow? You could wash the sheets more often, or train your cat to sleep at the foot of the bed. Does your dog hog the bed? You could treat yourselves to a bigger bed, or train your dog to stay on his own bed (see how this worked out on It’s Me or the Dog).

Note: If your dog is displaying aggression toward you or your partner around the bed, call in a behaviorist, pronto.

Fight #3: How much is too much to spend on vet bills?

Ultimately, this is something the two of you will have to decide for yourselves, and it’s probably best to talk about this while your pet is healthy — before you have to make the tough choices. Also, having pet insurance can help you avoid the stress of unexpected vet bills accompanied by giant fights. Instead, you can rest easy that your pet is well-cared-for and wait for your reimbursement check.

Fight #4: What’s the best way to train and/or discipline your pet?
Effective training is simple: Ignore bad behavior and reward good. But the pet will only learn if everyone in the household responds consistently. It can help to hire a trainer who uses positive-reinforcement-based techniques and agree ahead of time that you’ll both follow his or her advice — that way, you’ll avoid an “I’m right, you’re wrong” battle.

Pet-related fights are often really about “the couple’s power struggle,” says New York City-based marriage and family therapist (and pet parent!) Emma Viglucci, LMFT. “If they are honest, one partner usually cares less about their stance than the other and can therefore give in to the other’s wishes as an investment in the relationship. It’s nice to throw the other a bone every once in a while” … so to speak!

Tell us: How have you and your partner solved pet-related arguments?

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