For the craziest dog lovers among us, it鈥檚 difficult to overstate the importance of that stressful moment when a new romantic interest meets our canine ride-or-die for the first time. Bringing home a significant other to meet the pup is almost as crucial (okay, maybe equally crucial) as bringing them home to meet the parents. And, no, we鈥檙e not kidding.

If you thought this was a joke, consider these stats: According to a recent study from Rover.com, 54 percent of 鈥渄og people鈥 would consider ending a relationship if they thought their dog wasn鈥檛 a huge fan of their bae. Clearly, the dog and S.O. dynamic is pretty critical. The last thing anyone needs is another variable with relationship-ending potential, so we鈥檝e done a little homework to help ensure that your pooch isn鈥檛 the reason for your breakup. (Fluffy shouldn鈥檛 have to live with that guilt.)

Keep reading for nine pro tips from veterinarian Dr. Julio L贸pez and dog trainer and behavioral consultant Paula Nowak. Once you put their suggestions to work, we bet your S.O. and your dog will have to try not to fall in love.

1. Take it slow. Your new bae is probably just itching to prove that they can bond with your pooch ASAP, but patience is key. Encourage your sweetie to hang back and let Fido approach them first. 鈥淚nstead of approaching [the dog] and risking that you scare them and they run away from you, wait until [the dog] comes on their own, or call them over to let them sniff you out,鈥 Lopez says. When your S.O. and pup finally do meet face-to-face, your sweetie should lower themselves to dog-level and stay calm 鈥 dogs can feel nervous energy!

2. Let the process be a slow burn. You鈥檝e made the introduction鈥 what happens next? Allow your two important people (yes, dogs are people too) to bond gradually. 鈥淭he time spent together should allow both individuals low-pressure activities, such as hanging out, watching TV or movies, and taking walks together,鈥 Nowak recommends. On your first few walks as a trio, it鈥檚 best that you 鈥 not your partner 鈥 take control of the leash.

3. Practice strategic petting. Did you know that dogs have preferred petting locations? According to Lopez, woman鈥檚 best friend especially enjoys when we show them a little love at the base of their necks, or on their shoulders or chests. If your S.O. focuses on these areas, they鈥檙e more likely to make fast friends with your pup.

4. Don鈥檛 be afraid to bribe. Okay, so the whole concept of bribery kind of gets a bad rap, but when it comes to training dogs 鈥 and, more specifically, playing matchmaker for your human and canine love interests 鈥 it鈥檚 totes acceptable. Lopez鈥檚 advice on bribery to your significant other? 鈥淐arry treats with you at all times. They will be sniffed out, and they鈥檒l make you approachable.鈥 Better still, 鈥淚f you鈥檙e around for breakfast or dinner, volunteer to feed [the dog]. Give them half of the usual amount, so that when they are done and asking for more, you can feed them again. They will love you for that!鈥 We will too.

5. Let your S.O. play good cop. 鈥淚n the initial relationship-building period, all good things should come from the new person,鈥 Nowak says. 鈥淎nything the dog considers icky or scary (like baths or vet care) should be done only with the primary caregiver.鈥 It doesn鈥檛 feel great to be the bad guy, but if you let your boo bring the fun for a while, your dog will be much faster to fall in love with them as much as you have.

6. Take a walk. Walks are a normal part of life for most dogs and their owners, so make your new S.O. part of the routine. After a few strolls as a threesome, Lopez says, your pup may feel comfortable enough with your bae to take a lap around the block without you 鈥 but don鈥檛 rush it. When your partner is ready to take on a one-on-one walk, make sure they bring treats.

7. Lay off the strong scents. If your S.O. tends toward heavy perfumes or colognes, they may want to ease up 鈥 at least until they鈥檝e bonded with your pooch. 鈥淒ogs have insanely sensitive noses,鈥 Lopez points out. 鈥淭hat cologne you were thinking of soaking in will likely be a turn-off.鈥 Similarly, if your partner has pets of their own at home, it may be smart for them to wait to change clothes until right before they leave the house to minimize the new animal smells they鈥檙e bringing to your place.

8. Consider a class. You may have never thought of an obedience class as the perfect spot for a date, but it鈥檚 time to reconsider. If your significant other is up for it, Nowak says these kinds of dog-focused activities 鈥渃an help build trust and communication.鈥

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Maintaining open lines of communication is key in every aspect of a relationship, and forging the bond between your love interest and your pup is no exception. Make sure your S.O. feels comfortable sharing their concerns about the situation with you openly. 鈥淚t鈥檚 not always easy to bond with a dog you didn鈥檛 choose, a dog you haven鈥檛 raised,鈥 Nowak admits. 鈥淭he human piece of the puzzle is very important.鈥 Don鈥檛 forget to offer your partner specific, positive feedback when you see your dog beginning to have all the heart eyes for them!

Do you have any crazy experiences with a significant other鈥檚 dog? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)