I wear a lot of hats, as it were, and walk in a lot of worlds. As an erotica writer and longtime safer-sex educator, I spend a lot of time in that part of my professional life talking about sex, all kinds, and the various, complicated, and unique ways that each individual relates to their body.
Separately, in my work with dogs I spend a whole lot of time with people who are often (though not always) nervous/shy/uncomfortable thinking about (let alone talking about) sex and sexuality. Even though I keep these two worlds generally quite separate, there is something that seems to radiate off me that encourages dog folks to talk with me about their own sex lives and dog training issues associated with that. (It’s also not uncommon for my sex-radical friends to contact me asking dog training questions!)
I don’t know what dogs think of sex. If I had to guess, I’d say that my pups — including my 11 year old who has seen a lot — are utterly unconcerned with it and see it as just one more weird thing humans do with each other. What do your dogs think? One of my favorite poets Andrea Gibson recently released a new spoken-word album and on it is a fantastic poem about her dog Squash (click here to watch a video of her reading it to her dog).
Here’s a line from it: “I can’t imagine what you think of sex/ I can’t tell if you think it’s a slobbering badly boundaried belly rub or a poorly aimed fist fight.”
In America, we live in a sex obsessed culture (it’s on TV, in magazine ads, on the Internet) and yet we are, as a general rule, very uncomfortable talking about it. We are sadly undereducated about it, but that’s another conversation for a different place. What makes me sad, though, are the number of dog folks who contact me to ask a question about sex and are mortified about even talking about it. For me, there’s nothing shameful or embarrassing about sex, and the more we talk about it, the more comfortable and educated we become — all good things in my world.
Here are a few of my favorite tips to make sure that your dogs are safe and you can get some special time with your sweetie:
This is my golden rule of dog training. We all love our dogs, but sometimes we don’t need their assistance with what we’re doing. I believe that as part of training it is our responsibility as guardians to always help our dogs to be successful, which means crating or otherwise confining if we aren’t able to be supervising. If you’re engaged in sexual activity, supervising your dog is unlikely to be your primary area of focus.
It’s my No. 1 rule for sex and relationships, and it definitely comes into play here as well. Figure out what you want and the boundaries of where you are comfortable being or not being, and then communicate those needs/desires to your partner. Communication goes both ways, though, so be sure to also listen and take into account the needs of the people you are involved with.
Condoms, lube, dildos and other sex toys are part of safer sex practices and an enjoyable sex life, but they are bad for your dog. Make sure you always clean up your toys before drifting off to sleep or letting your dog back in the room.
Sometimes people use their dogs as an excuse not to have sex with their partner, saying, “Oh sorry, I don’t want to kick the dog our of bed” or, “Fido gets upset when we get romantic.” If that’s really happening, those are training issues that can be worked around but if you are more comfortable appeasing your dog then that’s ok, but it also might be worth thinking about why, do you want to be sexually involved with this other person. If not, that’s ok too, but don’t use your dog as an excuse, that’s not fair to your dog or anyone you might be in a relationship with. What is ok is to be honest about not wanting to engage in sexual activity with someone or at a certain time, and to say that at this time/place you would rather curl up with your dog and watch a movie.
Don’t assume that your partner is as comfortable as you are getting intimate with your dog laying on the pillow. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being physically involved with the dog on the other side of the bed, but make sure it’s something everyone feels comfortable with. Once in my late teens I did get involved with someone who was uncomfortable with dogs and who was so worried and unable to get into the mood with the dogs around that I did kennel my pack (who had been lying on the floor near the bed). My involvement with that person didn’t last long (not surprisingly) but it did remind me the importance of meeting intimate partners where they are and respecting their boundaries about dogs.
How about you? What do your dogs think when you have sex? What are your boundaries? Dogs in the room or dogs out of the room? Let me know in the comments!
About the author: Sassafras Lowrey is a dog-obsessed author based in Brooklyn. She is the winner of the 2013 Berzon Emerging Writer Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation, and the editor of two anthologies and one novel. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor, and she assists with dog agility classes. She lives with her partner, two dogs of dramatically different sizes, and two bossy cats. She is always on the lookout for adventures with her canine pack. Learn more at her website.
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