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Posted on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

Dogs as chick- or guy-magnets? Experts say they are

By Lorrie Shaw


Two dogs greeting each other at a dog park. Experts say that dog parks are ideal places to meet a potential mate.

A couple of days ago I was listening to the Diane Rehm Show as I was driving between appointments, and of course since it was Valentine's Day, the topic was on dating and matchmaking.

When I started listening, the conversation had turned to dogs as ice breakers in approaching someone (or attracting someone), so that piqued my interest. Anything that involves dogs will do that.

One listener — Juile from Provincetown — noted, "One other way to meet people these days is to walk a dog, an interesting dog. It's guaranteed to attract people and create a way into conversation."

I'd say that's a fair statement.

When I'm out dog walking, people in general are more apt to smile, make eye contact — and to even say 'hello' when a dog is at my side. Yep, dogs are great ice breakers.

"That's one of the 365 proven ways in my first book. And if you don't have a dog, borrow a dog," says professional matchmaker Janis Spindel.

Spindel, who is author of several relationship books including "Get Serious About Getting Married," notes that dog parks are great places to meet people.

"Again, it goes back to focusing on what you're doing, not who you're meeting."

Dogs are well-integrated into our human social structure — unlike cats — so it makes sense that they have a tendency to attract people to each other, no matter if it's in passing or if there's an attraction.

Years ago when I met my better half, Chris, we each had a dog and one thing that drew us together was the importance of our respective pets in our lives.

I know of one couple who met walking at Hudson Mills while walking their dogs. They later married and have expanded their canine brood.

So, this all really got me thinking and here's my question: In one way or another, did you meet your significant other because of your dog, or your affinity for the species?

Feel free to explain with your comments below.

Lorrie Shaw is leads the pets section for You can follow her daily pet adventures on Twitter and subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

I have to agree with Scissors. When I had dogs, I chatted with many of my neighbors daily. But I know hardly any of their names (some of them, I knew their dogs' names). And with my ex, the dogs became one of many reasons on the list for divorce. He was frequently jealous of my time with the dogs. Seriously, he would say, "Stop paying attention to the dogs, and pay attention to ME!"

Lorrie Shaw

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.

dogpaddle, That's a frequent scenario here. All of us here in our neighborhood know the names of our respective dogs, but the human's names can be a bit fuzzy. :) A handful of dogs stop by to see us on their own. It's funny, there is one dog, Milo - a gigantic black lab - that we never see wander onto our property until the first big snow. It's been his tradition for years. Needless to say, we haven't seen him yet this season - but we do hear him bark on occasion. So sorry to hear about your divorce. I'm guessing that the dogs stayed with you? Thanks for your comment!


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

Having an interesting dog as bait can backfire on ya. Last month I saw a guy walking a dog the size of a small car. I immediately went over and starting asking him about his dog (a Carpathian Shepherd, 11 months old, very loveable). If he wanted to talk to me I'll never know 'cuz I was too busy gushing over the dog. Another aspect of dog ownership is similar to having kids. You know the names & breeds of all the doggies in your neighborhood and at the local dog park but can't seem to recall the owners' names. All the humans are referred to as "Bubba's mom" or "Sadie's dad" or "that crazy lady with the sweet mixed breed". And finally, dog ownership is a great equalizer. At the dog park (namely Swift Run) the owners chat about dogs and funny dog behavior but nothing about themselves. It's the anti-thesis of traditional singles hang-outs. You get to know someone on the basis of their bond with their pet. The facade of occupation and social standing isn't a factor in deciding whether you want to continue the conversation. @Lorrie, you've been posting some very interesting articles and starting some great conversations. Thanks.

Lorrie Shaw

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 4:01 a.m.

RunsWithScissors, That's so true! Honestly, if I passed someone with a Carpathian Shepherd, I'd be gushy, too. Those faces! Oh! And I agree: you can learn a lot about someone by the bond with their pet. (When we were dating, Chris used to toss a tennis ball outside for Bruiser frequently if we were on the phone. That said a LOT to me.) Thanks for your kind comment, by the way. I appreciate that and your interaction. :)

Linda Diane Feldt

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Nala is a great judge of character, and faster to judge than I am. When I was using on-line dating many first dates were going for a dog walk. If she didn't like someone, I trusted her instincts. And she was very clear on who she did like. Yes, I am now with someone she immediately liked. We added a rescue to our "pack" and she vetted him as well. I do appreciate that having a very attractive dog makes more people approach and talk to me. But in 14 years of being single and looking, I only had one date as a result. We had a pleasant walk and talked about dogs most of the time. Frankly, most of the seemingly interesting guys were too focused on my dog to notice me much at all. Long ago - pre-internet dating- I had a date resulting from the single's ads in the Observer. We met at the selected location, he took one look at my dog, and practically jumped back into his car saying he forgot he had to meet someone. I'm pretty sure it was really the dog and not me, as he yelled this from a distance and kept his car door open between him and the dog - looking only at her, while commenting on her leash length and demanding I pull her back. I was happy to see him go. She was a muscular 75 pound dog on a flexi.

Lorrie Shaw

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 3:51 a.m.

Linda, My Gretchen is a great judge of character - she immediately loved Chris - and that was something that was important to me. I'm glad that all is going well!

Renee S.

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

>Dogs are well-integrated into our human social structure - unlike cats - Dogs are good for dating because you typically take them to parks or on long walks; places you are likely to meet people you haven't met before. Most cats don't walk well on leases, hence the only people who are going to meet your cat you're likely to already know. It has nothing to do with dogs being more "integrated into our human social structure" than cats. I would argue that having any pet makes you seem like good marriage material; pets are in many ways, "practice babies." My animal-hating ex also hated kids; he was just an all-around selfish person. If you can love and care for an animal, it shows you have the potential to love and care for other people too. I married guy partially because of how good he is with cats. One of the first "big steps" we made as a couple was to adopt a senior cat from the Human Society of Huron Valley (which, by the way, I highly recommend; she's an amazing cat) and it was clear to me from how devoted of a "kitty daddy" he is that he would be excellent father material. We're expecting our first child in May.

Lorrie Shaw

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 3:48 a.m.

That's a great story, Renee - thanks for sharing!