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Should I Make My Pets Leave the Room Before Having Sex or Jerking Off?

Advice from an animal behaviorist, a clinical sexologist and an animal-loving adult film star

Parenting a pet, no matter what kind, can be a frustrating and bewildering experience. Animals can’t tell you what they want and need (directly, at least), so we’re here to help you answer any questions you have about your favorite companion — whether they be furry, slimy, feathered, scaly or anything in between — with insight from the experts. This is “Basic Bitch,” an advice column for pet parents who just want the best for their best friend.

The Very Basic Concern

I’m a self-proclaimed animal addict. I have two rescued cats, two rescued dogs, one bearded dragon, one parakeet and seven tropical fish. My house might as well be an animal sanctuary, and as you can imagine, privacy is virtually nonexistent — even when the cats and dogs are lounging in the living room, my parakeet has a permanent home in the kitchen and my bearded dragon as well as my tropical fish have enclosures in the bedroom.

I’m not normally bothered by this, but I was on a date the other night and I invited him back to my place. He seemed generally cool with my pets, but when it came to, well, you know, he was kinda weirded out because my cats were in the bedroom.

I’d never thought much about having sex around my pets. But since then, I feel like I should even cover the fish tank whenever anything sexual is happening. Am I being dramatic, or have my animals actually been judging me and my beloved Hitachi Wand this whole time?

Basically: Should I remove all my pets from the room before having sex and masturbating?

The Expert Advice

Kyle Kittleson, animal behaviorist: There are two times when you should remove your pets from the bedroom before you engage in sexual activity. One: If the presence of the pets makes you or your partner uncomfortable. Two: If your sexual behavior induces stress in your pet. For pets like reptiles and fish, you’re not likely to stress them out while you engage in your adult behavior. However, some dogs and cats may become stressed while witnessing two people engage with one another — they may cower or move to the opposite side of the room if the noise level becomes too much. The majority of pets will be fine staying in the same room as two people engage in sex, but for the few pets that may get riled up while you and your partner express your undying love, just give them a toy, a treat and their own room.

Sunny Rodgers, clinical sexologist and certified sex coach: Let me preface with this: When doing research for my Feng Shui Your Sex Life workshop, I discovered that having photos of family members in your bedroom can be harmful to your sex life, and that includes masturbation, because subconsciously having images of family members “watching” can curtail pleasure and inhibit satisfaction.

That said, yes, having pets watching you self-pleasure or being present during sex-play can sometimes affect your focus. When your focus is on self-pleasure, a truly intimate act that some can feel guilty about, having someone with you, even a furry friend, could make a person feel uncomfortable. I believe this is the case with many people. It’s perfectly alright to want to be alone with yourself and/or your lover during sex-play and self-love. Safety for your pets should come first, but if it’s possible to remove them from your room during sex, you’ll most likely find you’ll feel freer to enjoy yourself.

Missy Martinez, an animal-loving adult film star: Even though I had sex in front of the camera for 10 years, making films that millions of people have viewed, I can’t help but still feel vulnerable and judged anytime I’m naked in front of my dog. Before any “action” goes down, I make her leave the room — I don’t want her to be scarred for life. She definitely gets a Milk-Bone or two as a consolation for being evicted from her desired sleeping spot, and she doesn’t hold a grudge for too long.