So you met a nice fella on Bumble and you’ve been out on a handful of dates. Things appear to be going swimmingly, so you decide to invite him back to your place for a night cap. But even though you feel perfectly safe with him, you’re still a little nervous … because he’s about to meet your dog for the first time.
It has already been proven that dogs are able to sniff out humans who mistreat their masters. In a study from Kyoto University, dogs were first offered treats by strangers who helped their humans, and then offered treats by strangers who refused to help their humans. The dogs repeatedly snubbed the rude strangers.
But it’s not just about how your dog thinks your date treats you. It’s also about how you think your date treats your dog.
When your maybe-one-day-boyfriend meets your dog for the first time, be sure to tune in to their interaction. The guy might not immediately start cooing, “Who’s a good girl?” and scratching behind your pupper’s ears — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your date could simply be nervous about making a good first impression, or maybe he’s sympathetic to dogs’ sensitivity, or perhaps he hasn’t spent much time around animals.
But pay close attention. Is it really trepidation, or is it something closer to indifference? Your dog is a member of your family — a tiny creature that you care for day in and day out, an extension of you — and she deserves acknowledgement and respect.
Or what if your date does greet your doggo, but also takes a subtle jab? Making comments about her appearance or her behavior — when he doesn’t know your pet’s backstory — is also a judgment on you.
Or does your date try to be aggressively playful? Does he immediately start teasing, wrestling, or roughhousing? Any type of contact that’s more taunting than playful is a clear indicator that your date doesn’t respect boundaries.
Justin Garcia, an evolutionary biologist and scientific advisor for Match.com, told National Geographic, “Because humans are a cooperative-breeding species, treatment of a pet can signal whether they will be engaged with offspring and with family social duties, whether that means taking care of you or you and your children.”
Bottom line? You want your date to treat your dog the way you’d want to be treated — or the way you’d want your children to be treated. And if he’s not a dog person, that’s okay. (Just make sure he’s not an anti-dog person.)
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