• Nosy pets and inquisitive children can sometimes take a toll on one’s sex life.
  • You can prevent kids from interrupting your fun by locking the bedroom door, preparing an age-appropriate explanation in case of incursion, or just making your and your SO’s private time part of the family routine.
  • Pets can be removed from the room–or at least the bed–and distracted with treats and toys.
  • You can learn to laugh about the busybodies in your household instead of feeling shame about having a healthy sex drive.

Pets and kids are notoriously bad at respecting bedroom boundaries. These big-eyed housemates have been known to claw at doors, swat at exposed body parts, and whine when they’re excluded from intimate activities. I’m thinking of toddlers of course, but this behavior applies to pets as well.

Have you ever shifted sexual positions and accidentally locked eyes with a forlorn dog in the corner? Have you ever been caught up in the moment when you hear your child shriek that they need help wiping their bottom in the bathroom? These are mood-killers of the highest order, with the potential to sabotage the intimacy that’s essential to maintaining healthy relationships. We’ve got some advice for geting your sex life back on track despite your intrusive (but loveable) companions.

How to Prevent Pets and Kids from Ruining Your Sex Life

At first I was going to pool the sex advice for pet parents and kid parents. Like, “1) When your pet/kid becomes too interested in what’s happening behind your locked door, take a quick time-out to throw them a toy.” Or “2) When your pet/kid catches you in the act, try not to react emotionally and just calmly reestablish your boundaries.”

But this approach broke down when I got to certain species-specific advice. You would not place a mat in the corner of your bedroom for your child, for example. You would not explain calmly to your dog that Mommy was just having a tickle fight with her special friend. So let’s divide up these tips by interloper. First, here’s how to handle curious kids.

  1. Lock the bedroom door. If your door doesn’t have a lock, wedge footwear under it. This may buy you enough time to throw the covers over your naked body if a child barges in. Multiple shoes can block any notes that your child tries to slip under the door. 
  2. Talk to your child about the importance of privacy and knocking first. You can reinforce this behavior by making a big deal out of knocking on their bedroom door and asking for permission to enter. 
  3. Have a plan B. If your child under 5 walks in on you having sex, the best thing you can do is keep your cool, give a short excuse (Examples: “We’re hugging.” “We’re putting on our pajamas.” “We’re getting ready to take a shower.”), and ask them to give you privacy. “Please close the door. We are having our private time. In five more minutes I’ll play Bingo with you.” Sometimes sex noises can make children worry, so if your little ninja gets in, try to keep your voice composed and reassuring so they know you’re okay. If your child is older, you may consider having a longer chat with them about what happened, using age-appropriate concepts and vocabulary. But initiate the talk later, when everyone is clothed, showered, and relaxed, i.e., out of sex-goddess mode and back in teachable-moment mode.
  4. Make sex boring. Some couples choose to be clear in advance about their private time, making it part of the family routine. “We are going to have our private time now. Would you like to play with your dollies or watch a show?” Kids will lose interest if a closed bedroom door is just a fact of life. They take their emotional cues from you. The more flustered and embarrassed you are about it, the more their curiosity will be piqued. (But just because you make sex seem boring, doesn’t mean it’s going to be boring!)

And then we have our animal friends. When you and your SO start rolling around in the bed, cats and dogs might take a serious interest. Not because they’re perverts (as far as I know), but because of the heat, the smells, the fun. They want to know what’s going on and if they can please please please be part of the action. Suddenly you have an audience, or worse yet, a furry face–with teeth–way too close to your private parts.

With regard to pets and a healthy sex life, you have to consider whether you’re concerned about your animal’s mental health or your own pleasure. Some pet owners fret that they’re scarring their pets for life by having sex in their presence. Intercourse between human owners might make a dog feel anxious or territorial, for example. And in that case you may need to call in a trainer or animal expert for advice. But most pet owners just don’t want their pets to distract them from a good time. Their pet’s presence during intimate moments negatively affects their comfort levels, their pleasure, and their performance. So here’s how you handle libido-killing pets:

  1. Stop co-sleeping. If your dog or cat is used to sleeping on your bed, train them to sleep on their own bed on the floor. This process might take a few weeks, but it will be worth it. Make their designated space enticing with special treats and toys.
  2. Have more sex. Eventually the novelty will wear off for your pets. 
  3. Kick out the cat. No one wants a cat judging their best sex moves. If the cat stands at the door, scratching and meowing to get let back in, remove them even further, like to the bathroom. Give them a toilet paper tube to soften the pain of separation. Or just turn up the music.
  4. Emergency diversions. Spontaneous sex doesn’t always allow time for shuffling all these animals around. Keep a chew toy in your bedside table next to…whatever else you might keep in your special drawer.
  5. Maintain your sense of humor. If your sexually deviant dachsund interrupts your business, make a joke and try to move on. But if the constant interference becomes an issue for you or your partner, or one partner feels that the pet’s wellbeing is more important than theirs, you may need to have a more serious conversation.

Maintaining Intimacy in a Busy Household 

The most important thing to remember about maintaining sexual intimacy despite kids and pets is that you don’t have anything to be ashamed about. I’m not recommending that we go back to the days when everyone in a household slept in the same bed and it was impossible to maintain boundaries. Healthy boundaries are essential, and every couple should get to have alone-time without feeling bad about it. If dogs, cats, and children can be trained to take sex for granted, so can you. Stop focusing on the little paws darting in and out from under the bedroom door. Stop stressing that your kid is going to wake up and catch you in flagrante. You will worry yourself out of a healthy sex life! Prioritize your body for once, and let love find a way.