Sex File: My puppy hates my new boyfriend 

"Although it is tempting just to lock your pet outside the door, in my experience this will only make her whine and claw at it"
Sex File: My puppy hates my new boyfriend 

A cocker spaniel puppy lying on his back on the bed indoors, looking towards the camera being playful.

I got a puppy last summer and she has been used to me being in the house alone for the past year. Now when my new boyfriend comes round the dog is very protective and gets distressed when we have sex. What can we do?

Your boyfriend and your puppy need to make friends. The reason little Fido gets distressed is that your boyfriend is a stranger, and when the two of you get intimate she doesn't know whether your boyfriend is being nice or nasty to you. Dogs are very protective of the people who look after them and they are also very attention-seeking, so they don't always like someone who takes their owner's attention away from them.

Introducing your boyfriend and your puppy to each other and getting her used to being handled by your boyfriend will reduce her distress. If you can get her to feel calm in his presence, she will stop focusing on him and guarding you. At that point, distracting her with treats and toys while you have sex might do the trick.

If you have crate-trained her, putting surprises in her bed might keep her occupied for the duration, but if your pooch has been sleeping on your bed since day one, it is going to be more complicated. Dogs are territorial and if your boyfriend is in a space that your puppy perceives to be hers, and he is doing something that your dog doesn't understand, she could become aggressive.

Although it is tempting just to lock your pet outside the door, in my experience this will only make her whine and claw at it. I am not an expert on dog neuroscience, but I suspect that an adaptation of exposure therapy would help. 

Sex is a uniquely sensory experience, and to desensitise your puppy to the sounds and smells and movements, you need to expose her gradually so that she gets used to it. 

If you and your boyfriend regularly cuddle and kiss, your puppy will initially want to get involved to protect you. When that happens, stop what you are doing, acknowledge her and let her know that you are fine. If you do that every time she whines or tries to come between you, she will eventually get bored.

If you have not done puppy training, you should definitely sign her up. Trainers regularly run puppy parties to teach owners and their puppies how to behave, and while they don't cover the issue of sex, they do provide an opportunity to meet local people who have dogs of a similar age. One advantage of this is that you can organise puppy playdates - and even better, sleepovers.

You definitely won't be the only couple experiencing these issues with their lockdown pet, so creating a community of puppy parents is a great way for everyone to get a bit of time off. It's not negligent. People with young children do it all the time. If they didn't, no one would ever have a second baby. And that, of course, is the other solution. Buy a second dog to keep yours company and they will be too busy playing with each other to bother you. I have three toy poodles. Just sayin'.

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