What to do when your spouse hates your pet

You and your pet are a package deal, and that’s fabulous. But when you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t understand that bond, it can cause strain.


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When we asked on our Facebook page, “Do you and your significant other fight about your pets?” many of you said yes.

In fact, some said you’d ditched partners who were unsupportive, or even jealous, of your pets. And shelter staffers know all too well that some people will give up their pets for the sake of a peaceful relationship.

So to help keep the whole family together, here are some tips for overcoming pet-related hard feelings:

  • Find out why your spouse is really mad. “When the partner brings up the hair all over the place, the pet getting more attention, etc., they might mean, ‘I feel second best, used or put upon,’ and that feeling might be a theme in the relationship,” New York City-based marriage and family therapist (and pet parent) Emma Viglucci, LMFT, tells us.
  • Take the focus off the pet. Once you’ve identified the underlying issue, focus on your partner’s feelings, not his or her criticism of your pet. Tempting as it may be, going into protective pet-parent mode only “aggravates the situation more by continuing to hurt your partner,” Viglucci says.
  • Help your spouse bond with your pet. If your partner feels left out of your and your pet’s close relationship, come up with activities just for the two of them. Maybe your husband can teach your dog some cool tricks or your wife can introduce your cat to a new game. Or maybe your pet can join in your partner’s favorite activity, whether it’s jogging or watching TV.

Of course, if you need extra help, call a trainer for hard-to-fix pet behaviors, or talk to a counselor together to work on tough relationship issues. No family is perfect, but with a little work, patience and communication, you and your spouse can enjoy pet parenthood together.

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