Should I Put My Dog in My Dating Profile? · The Wildest

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Heavy Petting

My Dog Is Perfect—But Should I Put His Picture in My Dating Profile?

Who better to answer this burning question than someone who met their husband because of a cute dog photo.

by Kelly Conaboy
June 26, 2024
Woman taking a selfie with her cute Labrador dog outside.
Samantha Gehrmann / Stocksy

Heavy Petting   is a biweekly relationship advice column for pet parents — so you and your boo don’t end up fighting like cats and dogs over the cat and dog. Do you have a pet who is affecting your dating life and need some advice?  Submit your anonymous questions here.

Dear Heavy Petting,
My dog is the light of my life. Seriously, I can’t go even 30 minutes without talking about him. People have learned to tune me out half the time, I think. Everyone knows that my dog is my baby, and as much as they make fun of me, my friends accept that. But when it comes to my dating life, I’m kind of nervous to admit right away how central my dog is to my life. I really want to find a partner, but I don’t want them to think they would be second-best. Then again, he’s basically the most important thing about me. So, should I put my dog in my dating profile pictures? Or wait until that first text conversation or date to reveal my perfect son?—Proud Dog Mom

Dear Proud Dog Mom,
It’s my immediate instinct to say that there is never a bad time to reveal your perfect son and for many these days, that starts in a dating profile. Actually, this is more than my instinct, this is based on anecdotal evidence: It worked for me! Well, it worked for my now-husband.

But first, a little research-backed evidence: A 2023 survey conducted by the British organization Guide Dogs found that two-thirds of its 1,000 respondents said they were more likely to match with someone on a dating app if they include a dog in their profile picture. These participants said they weren’t motivated by a desire to actually meet the dog — they instead liked what dog guardianship said about the person. It said that they were caring, responsible, and knew how to put someone’s needs before their own. 

With all due respect to the respondents, when I was in this situation, that was not my motivation. When I saw my now-husband’s dog on his dating profile, I had only one thought: I need to meet that dog.

I hadn’t yet gone on a date with anyone from the app. I didn’t particularly love the idea of app-based dating and hadn’t spoken to anyone yet who I wanted to meet in real life. The most appealing thing I’d seen on the app was, indeed, the photo of my now-husband’s dog.

It showed a young Shepherd mix on a beach, wet from having been in the water, with a puffy snout, floppy ears, and bowed legs. Oh, my God — the dog was so cute. And it sounds like your dog may be on the same level of adorable. Of course he is!

Without the dog photo, sure, I probably still would have been somewhat interested in the human (and of course you are too!), but with the dog photo, I was hooked. He had everything: a gentle disposition, a sense of adventure, a fun-loving spirit. Plus, his human didn’t even seem like a murderer, or a guy who was lying about his height. So, when the human asked me out, I said yes.

It’s ideal when you’re both equally dog-obsessed.

When I downloaded the app, I wasn’t looking for a partner who was as obsessed with their dog as I was mine, primarily because I didn’t think that was possible. At the time, I was in the middle of writing a book about my dog, Peter, which involved exploring different aspects of dog culture in order to find out more about what he liked, and what he didn’t. So, beyond the fact that I was in love with my dog, my job revolved around him. Finding someone who even approached that level of dog-obsessed was a tall order.

But after talking to my now-husband a bit over text, I remember telling a friend it was possible he was even more captivated by his dog than I was with Peter. Rather than telling me the basics — his dog’s size, temperament, adoption story — he told me about his personality, his likes and dislikes, the outdoor activities they do together. “I’ve never known anybody like him,” he said about his dog. And the dog’s name? Frank. (People think we named them together, but we are merely both the kind of people who give dogs the dignified names they deserve.)

For our first date, he suggested an activity that our dogs could join us in doing, which I appreciated but declined. (I will not subject Peter to anyone until they’ve been properly vetted.) Instead, he suggested we get drinks but only talk about our dogs; an idea I assumed was a joke until he showed up with a list of questions he wanted to ask me about Peter. (“Favorite food?” “Actor who would play him in a movie?”) If you’re thinking, OK, but to be honest this man sounds a little bananas. You’re right — he is, yes. Luckily I am, too.

Our second date involved going for a walk with our dogs, and I finally got to meet Frank — the man I was really interested in, just kidding (sort of). Frank was indeed gentle, sweet, and fun. Luckily, he also got along with Peter. Fast-forward several years, and one pandemic later, Frank’s human and I got married.

I’m telling this to you now to lend a bit of credence to the idea that putting your dog in your dating profile might lead to a match, or a relationship, or whatever outcome you desire. Truthfully, I’m not sure how willing I would have been to actually meet up with this guy had Frank’s photo not sparked my interest, and had his obsessive love of Frank not kept it.

You might find another dog-obsessive — like you, me, and Frank’s dad — or you might not, but you’ll definitely weed out the people who won’t understand that your dog is your number-one priority or who might be jealous of him. It’ll make perfectly clear how important (and cute) your dog is from the jump.

And, not to toot my own horn, but if they’re a real winner, their first motivation to date you will be to meet your dog. They’ll be totally smitten by that perfect face (your dog’s of course). If it’s helpful, I can even offer a bit of advice based exclusively on my experience and basically nothing else. 

How you can find the perfect second parent for your dog, via a dating app:

1. If you can, include a photo of just your dog. 

I’m not sure how every dating app works, but if it’s possible to display more than one photo, include one that’s exclusively of your dog. To me, this shows that your dog is a priority — they are their own being, they have a personality, they are someone you share your life with.

A photo of a human and a dog together is nice (there was one of those in my now-husband’s profile, too), but if that’s the only photo of your dog in your profile, here’s what it would make me think: Is that even their dog? Are they using their dog as an accessory? Did they read an article that said a photo with a dog gets more matches, and that’s why they included this pic?! A dog-only photo clears up those questions. It says, “I care enough about my dog to forgo showing you yet another photo of myself looking hot, and that must mean something good.”

2. Engage with others about their dogs. 

If you’re trying to get a date with someone who included their dog in their dating profile, talk to them about the dog. Maybe make that your first message. “Your dog is so cute, what’s their name?” People love to talk about their dogs. 

3. Be willing to show how wildly in love you are with your dog. 

Who knows, maybe that’s what will get them to marry you. 

Kelly Conaboy with her dog

Kelly Conaboy

Kelly Conaboy is a writer and author whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, The New York Times, and The Atlantic. Her first book, The Particulars of Peter, is about her very particular dog, Peter. (Peter works primarily as a poet.)

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