Treat Your Dog Like You’re Married

Now that I’ve been married more years than I was single (goodness, that’s a startling realization), I feel the right to judge the marriage advice columns I see online.

The more I read them, the more I see good advice for living with dogs.

Maybe it’s time to treat your dog like you’re married to her.

Pam and Mike on their wedding day.

OMD! What happened to those young people?

5 Marriage Tips That Also Work With Dogs

Don’t Assume Everything Will Be 50/50

Thinking that you and your partner will always give half the effort in a relationship is a disaster waiting to happen. Instead, understand that sometimes the ratio will be more like 90/10. And as long as it’s not the same person always giving 90%, you’re probably okay.

It’s the same with dogs. Doting on your dog without expecting anything in return results in a spoiled pup. But so does always expecting total obedience without giving your dog time to slack off and have fun.

Realize that sometimes your dog will be distracted or stubborn and less likely to listen to you. And other times you’ll be tired and lazy and resort to bribery instead of training. And understand it’s okay because one of you might just have to make allowances for the other.

Golden Retriever sitting for a treat.

Bribery is fine by me.

If You Want Something, Ask For It

Nothing makes me crazier than when my newly married friends say, “If he loved me, he’d….”

It makes me nuts because I said the same thing to myself when I first got married.

If someone loves you enough to marry you, he probably loves you enough to make you happy. But he might need some help figuring out how to do that. So if you want something, ask for it.

Dogs are better at anticipating your desires than most men. They’re masters at reading body language.

But they still need clear directions from you when you want something.

Is pulling your dog by his leash the only way you can get him to change direction? Or can you tell him where to go by moving your body or tapping your leg to bring him closer?

Ginny the foster beagle walks with her nose to the ground.

Yeah, just try asking a beagle to change directions once she’s got a scent.

Touch Is Important

I’m terrible at this. I’m just not a cuddly, huggy, touchy-feely kinda gal.

But touch is a great way to get your partner’s attention.

It works for dogs too.

Think of how physical dogs are with each other. They sleep on top of each other, bump against each other to make room, and paw or mouth each other.

Obviously touch is important to dogs like it is to humans.

What do you get from dog blogs?

Every dog needs a good cuddle sometimes.

Calm Down Before Solving Problems

Everyone argues. But when your heart is racing and you’re flushed with anger, it’s not time to “work things out.”

Go away. Calm down. Then sit down with your partner to find a solution to your problem (if it even needs a solution; sometimes people just need to vent).

When your dog has just rushed the door and knocked over a table in her excitement to get to the UPS driver, it’s not the time to train better impulse control. Your dog is still excited by the fun game and you’re just pissed.

Make a note that you need to work on a better way to handle visitors once you’ve cleaned up the mess your dog made and forgiven her exuberance.

Honey the golden retriever rolls in snow.

I dare you to try to train me when I’m having fun in the snow.

Not Every “Problem” Has To Be Fixed

And just like you need to be calm before working on problems, once calm, you might realize a problem isn’t such a big deal after all.

Really, is the world going to end because your partner smacks his lips when he eats cereal (like my husband)? And is it worth filing for divorce because your spouse can’t do anything spontaneously because she likes plans made in advance (like me)?

I can always leave the room when Mike is eating cereal. And Mike can always do things on his own when I’m being a slug.

It’s the same with dogs.

Barking might be irritating. But didn’t you get a dog with strong guard instincts to help you feel safe? Your dog can’t tell the difference between a mail carrier and a burglar.

As long as your dog isn’t making himself sick with anxiety over carrying out his guard duties and your neighbors are too far away to complain, learn to live with it.

And next time adopt a Basenji.

Woman and Golden Retriever

So this is one of your favorite pictures of us? Is it because I’m so cute? Or because your hair is still brown?

There’s Always Counseling

In truth, it’s much easier to stay in love with your dog than with your mate.

They don’t talk. They’re cute and furry. And they never leave the toilet seat up.

But if your relationships with your dog is showing some strain, try pretending your married and follow the best marriage advice out there.

And if it doesn’t help, maybe it’s time to look for a marriage counselor dog trainer.

Honey’s Birthday Week Surprise #4

Pam holds a Nylabone in her mouth.

Hey, if this is what it takes to teach Honey to put her toys away, I’m game. If only it was cheesecake flavored.

Sorry, no pictures from training Honey to put her toys away. But I had to start by teaching her to “take” one of her toys from me and that was tough.

She finally got the idea when I put her Nylabone in my mouth and dropped it into her basket.

Today’s birthday surprise is much tastier.

Honey’s friends and our former foster pups, Mr. Handsome and Lil Punkin Butt are coming to visit. And everyone will get a homemade peanut butter granola ball treat (peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and rice krispies—yum).

Sorry I can’t share the yummies with everyone. But if you have a favorite picture of your dog enjoying a treat, drop it on our Facebook page to join the party virtually.

Your Turn: Do you have any good marriage tips that also work for dogs?



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  1. Hahahahaha!!!! This was such a great post. LOVE the wedding photo at the top too btw. Beautiful! And hey, if they made cheesecake flavored dog bones, I’d be right there with ya!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  2. Lovely post! I need to teach my dogs how to put their toys away too.

  3. Great tips for marriage and dogs. Look how awesome you guys were on your wedding day! Love it!

  4. I’m so facebook-attuned, I tried to “like” the wedding picture. DOH!

    And never forget, your dog loves you unconditionally– and we hope your spouse does too. :)

  5. Great advice, I especially like number 1 – I do see an awful lot of people so seriously into obedience training that I feel they miss out on the wonder of just having a laugh with their dogs for the sake of having a laugh! The very very best thing for me is spending time with them and acting a fool! (alongside the training of course!)

  6. this is good advice for any pet owner,xx Rachel

  7. I’m not a cuddly, huggy, touchy-feely kinda gal either! By man or dog, LOL! I have a large personal-space bubble :-)

    Love that wedding picture. You two are adorable!

  8. Great post!
    I would add:
    Remember your vows. You made a commitment both in marriage and in adopting a dog. Remember to love, forgive, and constantly be working on your relationship. Don’t let it go sour, remember why you are together in the first place and constantly be striving for the best in your relationship. :-)

  9. I love that photo of Honey in the snow, she looks so happy!
    All relationships need give and take. I love playing in the mud – the bipeds wait for me and don’t moan (too much) if they get splashed and I put up with having my paws cleaned before I can go in the house afterwards.

  10. This is an awesome post!

  11. I think they are all good tips! They work for horses too – sometimes you just have to pick your battles and sometimes you just have to let it go. Except with horses, if you make the wrong choice they’ll kick you. 😉

    Monty and Harlow

  12. Love the wedding photo!

  13. Fab post!

  14. Fantastic post and so very true! I’ve never thought of it this way. One thing I’ve learned over the past few years that might apply is – never assume that they heard you.

  15. Great post — and pix — Pamela!!! Love your wedding picture — so sweet!!

    And to Kimberly, I would say “and never assume they DIDN’T hear you, either. In fact, keep in mind the old saying “To assume is to make an ass of you and me.” In my 61+ years on Earth, I have learned one thing over and over again: having expectations and making assumptions in any relationship can lead to disappointment and disillusionment. Does that mean I have none of either? No it just means I try to keep them in perspective.

  16. Oh My Doodle, I guess Harley and I are married! BOL

  17. That is some great advice for staying happily married and having a good relationship with your dog! I bet Honey enjoyed her birthday week surprise!

  18. Great advice, especially about not trying to train when you are pissed. It doesn’t work; I know I’ve done it when I’m frustrated with one of them. You try to get stricter and it’s just not cool.

  19. So what you are saying is I can use a dog as a substitute for a man, cause actually they are far more superior?! Love it!! ;0)

  20. Great Post!!! I’m not married yet but I think it’s coming soon and this was great advice. I never thought about the two kinds of relationships being similar. I’m guilty of bribery and in some situations it can be VERY hard to calm down especially when you feel like “your dog knows better”.

  21. Bahahaha – I always wondered what I looked like holding B’s nylabone in my mouth…now I know… hehehehe. I also agree that those nylabones don’t taste very good. They are bitter – not like bacon AT ALL. I was pretty disappointed. 😉