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Why Do Dogs Interrupt Sex?

Why do some dogs interfere when people are kissing, necking, or having sex? And what should you do about it?

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
September 17, 2013
Episode #213

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Reason #2: Your Dog May Be Agitated

For some dogs, the sights and sounds of human sexual activity represent a possibly alarming novelty. I see this typically with dogs who are overall anxious or excitable or both. They’re agitated by many kinds of movement and noise, not just sexual ones. The stage for problems is set when their guardian gets a new boyfriend or girlfriend. The dog has trouble relaxing around new people – and “new” is defined as anyone not known since puppyhood. He barks when the new love interest comes in the door, he barks when the love interest stands up to refill a glass of wine, and he barks when the couple’s interaction gets more couple-y.

If your dog’s trying to shove your partner away, growling, or otherwise aggressing when you try to have sexy funtimes, he may be guarding you the same way a dog might guard his food bowl or his toys

We don’t always know the whole biography of these dogs who get their undies in a bunch over many normal, everyday things. When we do know the history, it often includes inadequate early socialization. Honestly, this is a tough fix, because the problem is bigger than just “He barks when my boyfriend and I try to have sex.” The developmental window during which puppies are primed to learn about what’s normal in the world closed long ago. We can’t pry it open wide again.

Like bored, attention-seeking dogs, the Anxiety and Agitation Crew benefit from exercise and mental stimulation. Because their problems are more far-reaching than boredom, they usually need a formal behavior-modification plan to help them feel more at ease with at least some life experiences, including the presence and behavior of people important in their guardian’s life.  Also, many of these dogs benefit from appropriate behavioral medication – an anti-anxiety med might be in order, for instance.

Reason #3: Your Dog May Be “Resource Guarding”

If your dog’s trying to shove your partner away, growling, or otherwise aggressing when you try to have sexy funtimes, he may be guarding you the same way a dog might guard his food bowl or his toys. This is probably the behavior that to many people looks the most like “dominance.” There’s a very tiny grain of truth in that; scientists who study animal behavior may say that an animal dominated a given interaction if he kept control over a resource. But this kind of dominance is fluid; an animal may dominate in one interaction and not in another. Also, I could easily argue that the dog who resource guards you is on some level anxious and insecure. After all, where’s the threat, really?

How you deal with a resource-guarding dog depends on how intense and scary his specific behavior is. There’s a wide potential range. If he’s trying to push your girlfriend out of the way when you start cuddling, but never growls or snaps at her and greets her happily when she comes to visit, you could try an informal intervention. Set aside the favorite edible chew, or a food toy stuffed with something especially delectable, and give it to your dog as soon as you get personal with your sweetie. The extra-special treat should be long-lasting, to keep him busy. And he should only get it when the good times roll. Also, though I realize the timing can be awkward, deliver the treat a few seconds after you, um, start. The idea is that your intimate behavior tips off your dog that something wonderful is about to happen for him, too.

With more insistent or aggressive behavior, or with a dog who also resource guards in at least one other context, I wouldn’t recommend trying to handle it yourself. Get competent professional help, and don’t be shy. Like the couples counselor, the gynecologist, and the ER nurse, your dog behavior specialist has heard it all before.

That’s all for this week! When you’ve recovered, come visit me on Facebook. You can also write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I usually can’t reply personally, but check out past episodes – I might already have answered your question. Thanks for reading!.

Dog image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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