Is It OK to Have Sex in Front of Your Dog?

Illustrated dog watching couple have sex
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Dogs were put on this Earth for one reason: to love mankind. Also, to chase tennis balls and lick their own butts... so, I guess they were put on Earth for three or four reasons. Regardless, the bond forged between humans and dogs is one that will never be broken.

Still, that doesn't mean it can't be strained. Dogs make it pretty apparent when they don't want to do something, like go to the vet or take a bath... but do they care when their owner has sex in front of them? I called up expert dog trainer and author of Training for Both Ends of the Leash: A Guide to Cooperation Training for You and Your DogKate Perry, for answers. She let me know just how upsetting it can be for a dog to witness the disgusting act of human love. 

I've been working as a dog trainer for 17 years. It's a funny kind of topic, but it’s also a serious topic. As a trainer, I deal with this all the time. I've jokingly told my colleagues that we should make a show about it, because it's destroyed relationships.

It can be a big issue. The reality of a dog trainer is like we're a little bit like a social worker -- nobody calls me when things are going great. In this particular topic, I've had lots of scenarios where this happens. I've had to train around scenarios where even someone hugging the dog's owner drives the dog ballistic.

There are plenty of components of why this happens -- some dogs couldn't care less. But, some dogs operate on what's called primal drive, and resource guarding, and territorial guarding. So, when another party is coming into their space and all this activity is happening on what they think is their bed... they don’t know what’s happening and they can view that as somebody attacking their owner.

Some dogs care, some don't. It's the natural instinct in the dog. 

Or, they want to dominate and control the moment. What people don't realize is that dogs can be quite controlling when they want their owner to be No. 1. They can act out and I've had people call me and tell me "my dog won’t let my husband or boyfriend or girlfriend in the bedroom." So, what's really going on is that the dog's guarding their territory.

Some dogs care, some don't. It’s the natural instinct in the dog. It can happen with men or women, it just depends on the dog’s history with the owner. The first thing you have to do is take the dog off the bed. That's the No. 1 remedy... then put them in their own bed or a crate, or gate them off.

Dogs are emotional animals like we are. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, so I've been using that method in New York. So, ballpark, it takes around three weeks to train your dog not to go ballistic when you're having sex. It's teaching a dog not to be on your bed, then teaching your dog how to be in another room and be OK with that. But, there can be separation anxiety when the dog's not with their owner.

Still, the dogs have this in their DNA and watching their owners having sex in bed can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.

Dogs have been domesticated to hunt for us and guard us; dogs are supposed to guard and protect. That’s the initial primal reason we have them. Now, we don't want them to bark or pee or do what we initially bred them to do. In New York, we have doormen to be our protectors now. Still, the dogs have this in their DNA and watching their owners having sex in bed can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.

Especially with the breed type: a Doberman or a Rottweiler or German shepherd... they are classic guard dogs. With the lifestyle that goes on in New York, dogs aren’t getting walked that often and only spend time with their owners at night, so they don't like when other people are suddenly thrown in the mix. I have a Chihuahua that I adopted and he doesn't even like when people come to my front door.

In conclusion: the short answer is that it really depends on how you train your dog. If you've spent your entire life happily allowing them to sleep on your bed, then yes, they might care if someone else takes their spot. Dogs were bred to care for humans and can't comprehend the act of love for what it is: not an act of attempted murder. So, do yourself a favor and don't let your dog double as a cuddle-buddy.

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Jeremy Glass is a writer for Thrillist and honestly can't get off unless he's doing it in front of a Dalmatian.