Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

We always knew that dogs were good for our mental health. Many studies, like the one conducted by Dr Laurie Santos, professor of psychology and director of the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University, have shown how even brief interactions with dogs can significantly alleviate our mood and reduce our anxiety levels. Research shows their positive effect on their guardians’ health, such as lowering blood pressure, combating loneliness, encouraging physical activity, and promoting an overall sense of happiness.

Pets, specially dogs, are increasingly viewed as family. Research among American (Blouin 2013) and Israeli (Shir-Vertesh 2012) adults, for example, shows that a growing number of pet owners describe their dog or cat as a “family member.”

As dogs and cats are increasingly viewed as family members, a person’s pets may wield significant influence in human courtship and ultimate partner choice.

How much does a dog’s opinion matter when a woman chooses a date, or a potential mate? While men treat their dogs as companions and friends, women tend to look upon them as their children  as well. As a result, women tend to be more sensitive as to how their partner treats their dog. A cardinal tenet of evolutionary psychology is that women tend to allocate more brownie points, subconsciously, to child-rearing. So, a man’s interaction with a dog provides a woman with clues signaling their date’s qualities as a potential parent, according to the research conducted by the University of Nevada anthropologist Peter Gray, published in Psychology Today.

A man who has a dog automatically leads women to believe that he’s nurturing and responsible with people too, and that he is affectionate and compassionate, especially if he has adopted a rescued dog.

A survey was given to a group of singles, who were registered on the online dating site,, to determine the role companion animals play in partner assessment and partner selection.

The results of the survey showed that women are more sensitive to a potential partner’s treatment of companion animals, because they place greater concern on the well-being of their current companion animals, as well as the possible integration of a partner’s companions into their family. Additionally, women were much more likely than men to judge a date based on how that person reacted to their companion animal, so they could decide if that person was worth dating and whether he will be kind, committed, and engaged with their own future children.

Women also placed value on how their dog reacted to a potential mate, in the same way that she would put value on how her human children would react to a potential mate. The survey found that women are more satisfied in their relationships when their partners feel the same way they do about their companion animals, and when there is harmony in the household.

Dogs serve more commonly as social guidelines in the dating world than cats. Companion cats tend to be less social and demanding, and less integrated into their guardians’ lives, so they show less of a potential partner’s caregiving capacity.

Most of the singles in the study stated that they would approach someone they were attracted to, if that person had a dog with them, mainly because dogs are easy conversation starters.

Do men realize this? Most do. When asked “Have you ever used a pet to attract a potential date?”, a much higher percentage of men than women reported having done so. Which means that  men know that these traits are desirable to prospective mates. In a study conducted by Gueguen and Ciccoti , published in Anthrozoos, a man with a dog was more likely to obtain unfamiliar woman’s phone number during a meeting in a public space, than the same man without a dog. Another study, done by Tifferet et al. in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, showed that women evaluate men as more attractive if these men were described as dog owners. Anecdotal data also suggests that an adult’s perception of pet dogs (example, particularly whether they are allergic to them, or if they do not like to take care of animals) may also play a role in mate selection.

Do dogs get an active say in your selection of mate? Do they eavesdrop on your conversations, pick up clues, form opinions?

The answer is yes.

Kazuo Fujita, the lead researcher of Kyoto University in Japan, tested 18 canines. In this test, the dogs watched as their owners asked a stranger to help him open a box. In the first scenario, the stranger refused to aid the owner. In the second, the stranger came to the owner's rescue. And in the third, the stranger remained neutral, neither helping nor refusing aid. Afterwards, the strangers approached the dogs with treats. The animals refused to take food from the strangers who had snubbed their owners. They took treats from the helpful and neutral parties.

Over the process of domestication, the human-dog bond has evolved. The dog studies the guardian’s behaviour, says Oscar E. Chavez, DVM, at Cal Poly Pomona University. “They’re watching our every move to see if we give them clues as to our intentions. In this way, they can anticipate that it’s time for a walk, or see that you are getting ready to leave, or perhaps that it’s dinnertime. They’ve become the animal kingdom’s human language experts — both physical and spoken language.”

Dogs make their opinions clear as to whether the male, a woman is seeing, is a good partner in the long run or not. Since they are not attracted superficially and have spent time analyzing behaviour, it might be better to rely on their judgment rather than yours- they could save you from yourself!

Here are a few signs that indicate that your dog disapproves of the man you’re seeing:

* A stiff tail between the legs and ears pinned to the back.

* Growling or snarling.

* A polite sniff of the crotch is a stamp of approval. A crotch bite, on the other hand is not.

* If your pup is licking your guy by the third date you’re ok. If that lick of approval happens on the first date, keep the man!

* If your date throws a stick and the dog, who normally fetches everything, refuses to fetch the stick it’s a sign of massive disapproval.

* Refusal to greet him.

* Refusal to leave you alone in his company.

* Not letting your man take the lead while the two of them go for a walk together.  If your dog is walking him, you know the dog has no respect for this man. But if your dog is well-behaved, and heeling, it's ok. If he goes to the bathroom in front of your man, your dog is very comfortable and it’s a double yes. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,