Let your dog guide you to love
Dogs great for meeting people, breaking ice
Getting out with your dog can lead to more than just a healthier lifestyle and a better bond with your pet -- it can lead to love."I wanted to have social opportunities with my dog," said Angie Gwiazdon, owner of K9-Connection, a Minneapolis-based canine networking program.
Gwiazdon created a program that allows dog lovers and dogs to meet like-minded people, share some food and get to know one another in a no-pressure, fun atmosphere.
Show Your True Self
Deborah Wood, author of The Dog Lover's Guide To Dating: Using Cold Noses To Find Warm Hearts, suggests that watching someone interact with a dog can help you learn a lot about his or her personality.
"You can learn so much. It really is a chance to view someone acting open, affectionate, kind. It says a lot about who that person really is," said Wood. "We are more guarded with people than with our pets."
Play With Others
Events like those offered by K9-Connection are becoming popular across the country. Gwaizdon offers events like "Speed Dating With Your Dog," "Perro Fiesta" for Cinco de Mayo fans and "Beer With Your Buddy," where pooches can sip on specially brewed, non-alcoholic beer as you enjoy conversation with other dog owners.
"It's a great opportunity to connect with others, have fun and also as a means for people to meet someone," said Gwiazdon. "People are more apt to come with their pets when they wouldn't have come otherwise ? People start talking and dogs start sniffing one another, everyone meets someone."
"Any place you bring your dog, you can meet a fellow dog lover," said Wood.
"If you want to meet available, kind people, just having your dog in your presence can benefit you," she said.
Where To Meet Dog Lovers
Wood offers a bit of advice to men seeking women who love dogs.
"Shelters are full of kind women who volunteer their time. It's paradise for a single man," she said.
You can also meet like-minded people at the dog park, doggie day care or simply around your own neighborhood.
Let Your Dog Lead The Way
Your dog can help you meet someone if you take a daily walk and see someone on a similar excursion.
"Start moving in the direction of the other person," said Gwiazdon.
Your dog will then be able to lead you the rest of the way to the individual. Dogs are very good at picking up subtle changes in your path.
Even if you don't have a dog, you can meet someone who does. Approach the dog and owner in a casual way.
"Compliment the dog, not the owner," said Gwiazdon.
That canine compliment can get the ball rolling for some human interaction. It helps avoid the awkwardness that can sometimes follow a compliment between two unacquainted people.
You don't even have to use words.
"As soon as a dog owner hears that 'Awww' it is just a matter of time until you are given the dog's history and cute stories," said Wood.
Once you've started an exchange, people often open up. As you chat, it becomes easier to let someone know that you're not only interested in the dog but seeking to learn more about the owner as well. You may even cull a phone number out of the exchange.
Dog Isn't Crucial
Wood feels that everyone can benefit from having a dog in his or her life, but she advises against getting one simply to find a date.
"There are cheaper ways to attract a mate," she said. "Not every person should have a dog."
Dogs can be expensive, and Wood explains how the cost of a pet could be used elsewhere, if you really aren't interested in investing time and energy into a pet.
"If a person recently lost a job, is in the process of moving or their past dog passed away," said Wood, it also may not be a good time to get a dog.
But people who want to make an impression without the commitment can consider online dating or dog-sitting for a weekend.
Let Your Dog Do The Talking
Dogs can also help once you've met someone new. What should you do if your trusty companion is less than thrilled with your new date?
"Dogs have a sense of individuals that is more keen than ours is," said Wood. "Your dog could be trying to tell you something."
Another possible option is that your dog is reacting because you have been spending less time with him or her. Make sure to involve your dog with your new date. Allow him or her to offer treats, belly rubs and the other wonderful things that make your canine friend happy.
Sometimes all that time and energy just doesn't build a bond between your dog and your date.
"I'd pay attention to a dog's dislike of person," said Wood.
Your Dog As 'Date Bait'
While a pooch may be great for pickups, some dog breeds scare people, no matter what the disposition of the individual dog.
"If you have a big, scary-looking dog, have your dog wear a bandana," said Wood. "Or have them carry a toy on your walk; it can soften their appearance."
Other dogs are often considered irritating by people. However, you can prove them wrong.
"A well-behaved dog, no matter the size, cannot irritate an individual," said Wood. "Training is essential."
The book "A Dog Lover's Guide To Dating" offers the five best and worst "date bait breeds:
- Golden retrievers, Labradors -- friendly, nonthreatening dogs
- Papillions -- pleasant-acting, mild-mannered dogs
- Scruffy terrier-mixes -- extra points for you if he had a sad life before you
- Collies -- especially popular for those who remember Lassie
- Afghans -- their unusual appearance can get comments, compliments
- Pit bulls -- Some people will cross the street before meeting this dog
- Rottweilers -- Same as pit bulls
- Yapping little dogs -- quick to irritate and annoy
- Dogs with elaborate hairdos -- these dogs make owners look high-maintenance
- Chinese crested -- this breed is unusual, but not in a good way
What Does It All Mean?
"The bottom line is that love attracts love," said Wood. "If you love your dog and have a great relationship with them, people will respond to that," she said.
And if you don't meet anyone while walking, playing and interacting with your dog, you haven't lost a thing.
"The worst that can happen is that you have a great relationship with your dog. If you don't meet anyone, at least you've had a great time," said Wood.