Are Your Pets Ruining Your Sex Life?

By Dorri Olds |

There are times you want that warm, sweet, furry body nuzzled against yours in bed. (Sorry, guys, we're talking about the pets.) And there are times (now, gents, we're talking about you) that you don't.

Should pets exit the room when it's sex time, or hunker down with you, in full view, until it's over?

In a random sampling of pet-owning couples, all said they allow their pets to sleep with them in bed. But when they try to use that bed for another pastime that didn't involve sleep, respondents were evenly split on whether their other love mates should continue their bedroom privileges - or be temporarily banished. Among the comments in both camps:

Let 'em Stay

Prying eyes: "When we have sex, the cat sits there and stares at us," says one interviewee. "When she starts sniffing around, my husband pushes her away. We made it work. Now, we have a second cat in the bed and he snores. Does it put a damper on things? Not really. I tell myself that cats do it in front of the whole world, so from their perspective what we are doing is perfectly normal."

Exploring new territory: "We got our first Yorkie two months after we moved into our house. She lasted one night in a crate and then became a permanent fixture in our bed. She has been spooning my husband for 14 years now and sighs when she can't get next to him. So, yes, it puts a damper on spontaneous sex in the bedroom. But there are other rooms in the house to sneak off to."

Speaking in (wagging) tongues: "The dogs just look at us like, 'Here they go again' and slowly move to the end of the bed. Then, every few minutes they do a quick glance as if to say, 'Enough already.' When they've had all they can take they retreat to the living room and slowly work their way back, checking to see if all is quiet again. If not, they go back to the living room as if to say, 'Can't you two get a room?'"

Animal magnetism = well-groomed canines: "Yes, they do put a damper on sex. There's nothing like a cold dog nose against my rear end to break the mood. We have tried a crate and shutting the bedroom door, but both without success. They whine and cry because they want to be with us. Or maybe with just me - I have that animal magnetism thing going on. Our solution? We accept it and laugh it off and we live for the days they go to the groomer!"

Keep 'em Out

Taking cover: "The first dog we let sleep in our bed was a dachshund and there is no negotiating with them. They make themselves right at home, under the covers, whether you want them to or not. Yes, it sometimes puts a damper on things. So we put the dogs outside of the bedroom and lock the door and they're pretty good."

Happy reunions: "We have to kick our dog out. He's okay in the beginning but when one of us gets vocal he doesn't like that. Not only do we have to shut the door but we have a piece of baby gate we set up in front of it because he kept scratching the door. When we let him back in, it's always a joyful doggie kissy fest on the bed, so we're all happy."

No fuss when we frolic: "It was never a question about them sleeping with us, that was a given. When we are getting our groove on we make sure to put the 'kids' in another room so it doesn't disrupt us and make anything feel weird. It's almost like they understand not to cause a fuss."

So what do the experts say?

"There is nothing wrong with pets sleeping in the bed unless they use that position to the owner's disadvantage," says animal behaviorist and author Darlene Arden. "Then they should lose the privilege until they can behave in a more generous manner."

Adds Marty Klein, PhD, author of Sexual Intelligence and other books about sexuality: "Pet owners can arrange almost anything they want. If you can't train your pet to do what, you need to (teach them) to behave better. People use the uncontrollability of their pet as an excuse. When a couple says to me, 'We have no choice, we don't want to make the pet uncomfortable or we can't make the pet do what we want them to do,' what I hear is, 'We'd rather discomfort ourselves than discomfort the animal.'"

When you want to keep both species happy, it may help to ensure the four-legged variety is too tired to be a distraction:

"For cats, I suggest playtime for the pets before bedtime," says Arden. "Take out an interactive wand toy to play with the cat, and tire her enough to fall asleep. Give her a treat and put her in another room with her scratching post, food, water, a bed, and a couple of safe toys to play with. And of course, a litter box.

"For dogs," she adds, "I suggest a long walk and some play before bedtime. Give him a treat, put him in a separate room with a bed or a crate with the door open, water and toys. You want him to be happy and tired enough not to care because he'd rather sleep."

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