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Love her, love her pet - or you're in the doghouse

You've been dating for while. You really like her. You like her family. But how do you feel about her dog?

A new study has found that women tend to be happier in a relationship when their partners like their pets as much as they do.

According to LiveScience.com, researchers at the University of Houston surveyed 120 co-habitating heterosexual couples – the majority of whom were dog owners – about how they felt about their pets and about their relationships.

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Women said they were more satisfied with their relationship when their partners expressed a similar level of closeness to their pets. Men's relationship satisfaction, on the other hand, was less likely to be affected by how their partners felt as pet owners, but the male participants tended to be happier when they, themselves, felt particularly close to their own furry pals.

This difference may be because "females are much more in-tune with the harmony of the household," researcher Kristen Capuozzo told LiveScience.com. "Is everybody getting along? Is there any kind of disagreement, any discord? If I'm superattached to my pet and my husband isn't, then that might cause some disharmony: 'Why is that pet in my bed? Why are you spending so much money on that pet?' "

Curiously, however, women were less satisfied when their partners were closer to their pets than they were. "She kind of gets jealous," Ms. Capuozzo said.

Considering that most pet owners think of their animals as members of their family (among Canadians, 90 per cent of owners reportedly feel that way), men would be wise to make nice with their dates' four-legged friends.

Could you date someone who didn't share your love for your pet?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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