Like many people, I want that special someone to come home to. Someone to snuggle with on the couch. Someone to feature alongside me in my Facebook profile picture. And I’m sure that, one day, I will settle down with a nice dog. But for now, I am loving the dating game.
To my fellow dog-lovers, also afraid of commitment, allow me to guide you through the delightful world of dog-dating with these eight tips on how to find and woo dogs and owners alike.
1. Quit getting your puppy fix from a computer screen
I can’t stress this enough. If the only dog action you’re getting is via the Internet, you are seriously missing out (and you might also be a little bit of a loser). Whilst trawling the Facebook wall of Boo, the World’s Cutest Dog, image-searching “puppies,” and bookmarking pet sites can be highly gratifying, these two-dimensional interactions just won’t help you relate to dogs in the real world.
2. Get out among the action
It might sound obvious, but in order to engage in a casual human-dog encounter, you need to discover environments where dogs like to hang out. Think of places where dogs and their owners are relaxed, ready for a good time, and open to new experiences. I find parks are the best options for a playful rendezvous. And cafes, with their tight seating arrangements, are the best for quickly building a sense of intimacy.
3. Psych yourself up
It’s not easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger and make new friends, but for every one person and his or her dog who rejects your advances, there will be 10 other welcome opportunities to engage in flirtatious, witty banter and petting. That’s a one-in-ten ratio! The odds are in your favor — so get out there already!
4. Practice your pick-up line
From my experience, this doesn’t even need to be creative. My go-to intro is “Cute dog!” And it works every time. It’s genuine, it breaks the ice, and it builds instant rapport with the dog’s owner and paves the way to a deeper connection with the dog.
5. Ask permission to touch
If there is one tip to take away from this dog-dating guide, it’s this: Don’t touch the dog until the owner says it’s okay to do so. It surprises me that this simple courtesy is so often ignored. Respect the game, players! A simple “May I please pat your dog?” usually does the trick.
6. Capture the moment
It’s 2012. If you don’t capture this fun date on your smartphone and post it on some social network, it will get lost in the time-space continuum forever. I’m still finessing my approach to this essential element of the dog-date, and even I have a few lessons to learn here. At the moment, my technique is to start by asking the owner’s permission to take a photo, and then to quickly offer a reason I might want to capture her pooch for posterity. My line?
“Can I please take a photo of your dog? My sister LOVES dogs, and she’ll just DIE if I send her a pic. He is sooooo cute!”
I then quickly take a photo. If I don’t get the shot within 10 seconds, I abandon the project. Let’s face it — if I’m not careful with this step, I could drive dog-dating into creepy stalker territory. (This was a lesson learned the hard way, so I urge you to hold to the 10-second rule.) Best to use your discretion here.
7. Be prepared for a short conversation … or a long one!
You’ve made a connection, you’ve enjoyed some physical touch, and you’ve captured the experience digitally. The last thing you want to do now is cheapen the whole experience by rushing off and making the dog and its owner think you were only ever after one thing. If the owner wants to engage you in 101 reasons you should own a Havanese, indulge her. You might just find out that the national dog of Cuba would make the perfect partner when you are ready to settle down.
8. Post the photo on social media
Don’t underestimate how important it is to be all, “Hey, Facebook friends in boring long-term relationships with their dogs — look at me! Look at all these cute dogs I’m hanging out with! My dating life is awesome!” Your social network will be enriched with the knowledge that dog dating, when done respectfully, is a legitimate lifestyle choice.
Dog owners, how would you feel if a stranger asked permission to take a photo of your dog? Would you feel as though your privacy was being violated? Or that your Saturday morning brunch or play in the park was being disrespectfully interrupted by a creepy stalker? Please let me know in the comments! I’m keen to test out my one-in-ten theory.