Why Does My Dog Prefer My Boyfriend?

Guy and his dog, golden retriever, nature
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You and your pup are curled up on the bed, sharing a bag of Doritos and binging on "Friends" reruns. It seems like there's no other place your pup would rather be...until your significant other walks through the door and then it's like you never even existed. The realization hits you like a ton of bricks; my dog likes my boyfriend more than me. You think to yourself; after all, my dog sleeps against me and loves cuddling. What's going on?

As the one who does all the work feeding, bathing, and taking care of your dog — it's no wonder you feel offended and are taking this cold-shoulder response to heart. You really like your S.O., but why is your pup suddenly switching teams?

My dog likes my boyfriend more than me

It would be reassuring to dog owners everywhere if there were a complex, scientifically tested reason why their dog is showing preferential treatment to someone else — but there's not. Sometimes, that's just the way it is. Often, a dog favors one owner. If you're married, you may think, my dog likes my husband better. There's no rhyme or reason to a dog's preferences sometimes.

Smiling man with dog using laptop in kitchen at home
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If your pet constantly travels back and forth with you to your boyfriend's house and spends alone time with him, it may be that their personalities just mesh together better. Or it could be that your pup really enjoys the activities they do together. Dog trainer and author Mikkel Becker explains, "Your dog associates people with different activities and emotions, for better or for worse." For example, if your S.O. takes your high-energy dog for a run every day and then rewards him with treats afterward, your dog is likely associating your partner with the positive, fun experiences they share.

It could also be something as simple as your demeanor versus your S.O.'s since Becker goes on to say that dogs generally "prefer people with soft voices and calm mannerisms over those who are loud and boisterous."

And sometimes, your dog's personal preference towards a particular human was ingrained in his mind before you even entered his life.

Dog breeds that bond with one person

From the time a puppy is born, they are continuously introduced to new people, sounds, smells, and surroundings. The American Kennel Club says the most crucial socialization period for puppies is from about seven weeks to four months of age.

Going for a walk
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This time in a puppy's life is one that "permanently shapes her future personality and how she will react to things in her environment as an adult." What that means is, if your pup was primarily cared for by males before you adopted her, it might be that she genuinely feels more comfortable and relaxed around your boyfriend. Also, some dog breeds bond with one person. And when a dog is in a relationship with two people, that person she bonds with may not be you.

It's time to repair the relationship

Before you start packing your dog's belongings so he can live happily at his new house, you should know that you can repair the relationship between you and your dog.

Start by going back to the basics. Take your pup on that run he loves so much. Spend a few extra minutes giving him extra belly rubs. A few extra treats wouldn't hurt either (hey, we are not above bribery here). Celebrity pet expert, Harrison Forbes, suggests that you "make sure your dog knows who the caregiver is by giving clear signals. Be the one to feed him and fill up his water bowl. Be the one to walk him." Tell your beau to back off for now.

Your dog might be tuning you out since he's sick of hearing you giving him commands all day and sees your S.O. as a fresh change who is less demanding. Forbes delves further, saying his hunch is that you're probably giving your dog too many instructions in your day-to-day life, and doing that waters down their effect. Instead, he says you should work on conserving your commands for times they are absolutely necessary.

If none of that works and you feel like your dog would truly be happier living at your S.O.'s place, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to let him go. You might be heartbroken, but it's a good excuse to keep your boyfriend around so you can see your dog as you please and when you two finally move in together, you'll be reunited as one big happier family.

Dog trainer Andrea Arden offered this reassuring piece of advice to People magazine — "Life is complicated. Sometimes, the most unselfish thing to do is to say, 'Is this the right situation for this dog? The dog is telling you something. And that's a sign of love, that you do what's in the best interest of the dog."

Try and look on the bright side because it could be worse. At least your dog likes your boyfriend and isn't jealous of all the extra attention you're getting lately. Now if only you could get your boyfriend to go back to giving you back rubs instead of your his dog.