It seems as if we can't go for more than a month or two without somebody coming up with a new survey looking at the way that we feel about our dogs and the way we relate to them on a day-to-day basis. It is also the case that we are always encountering surveys that compare dog lovers to cat lovers, although it is unusual to find a survey which suggests that our pet preference may reflect what kind of human lovers we are in general. However we now have two new surveys which reflect on both of those issues.
The first survey was taken by Direct Line Pet Insurance and K9 Media. It suggests that dog owners prefer looking at their pets rather than at their partners, at least when it comes to screensavers and profile pictures. The survey involved 1,407 dog owners and 86% of them reported that they used their pet as their screensaver rather than anything else in their life. In addition 45% said that they always use a picture of their pet in their social media profile. 90% of these dog owners admitted that they take more pictures of their pet than of their partners. Some 72% said that they take pictures of their dog weekly, and nearly a third of them (31%) said that they take pictures of their pet virtually every day. However the dog owners also admit that the majority of these pictures are not an attempt to create a beautiful portrait of their pet, but rather to capture special moments or to catch the dog doing something funny — something which they can share with friends and family. In fact 15% of pet owners specifically try to catch their pet doing something naughty in their photos.
The second survey has produced results which are bound to be more controversial. It was taken by a dating website, Match.com, and it involved 1,057 single Canadians who are currently using its online services. According to psychotherapist Kimberly Moffit, who described the survey results for Match.com, whether you are a dog lover, cat lover, or do not own pets at all, has a significant effect on your dating behavior and your attitude toward interpersonal relationships.
People who don't own animals as pets are considerably less likely to believe in the idea that it is possible to find a true "soul mate", in the sense of someone that they would want to spend the rest of their lives with. Among those non-pet people, 53% of them won't drink alcohol on a first date and 57% of them will marry someone without living with them first.
Turning to the differences between the dating behaviors of dog and cat lovers, Moffit says "What we found in this study is that dog lovers tended to date a little bit more like dogs, and cat lovers dated a little bit more like cats. The dog lovers were a lot more willing to spend money on a first date and were a lot more willing to have a one night stand — so they were a little more eager and enthusiastic. Whereas cat lovers were a little bit more aloof in their relationships".
The actual numbers show that dog lovers will spend more than twice as much money on a first date then will cat lovers. The cat lovers seem to make less of an effort to sustain a relationship in other ways as well, for example they were less likely to call back after a date.
Moffit believes that we may be biased toward some of these behaviors because of what we pick up from our relationships with our pet partners. She notes that "a dog requires a lot of attention, but dog lovers also get affection from their dogs. It's immediate attention, it's gratifying, and it's fun."
She summarizes her conclusions by saying "A person's relationship with their pet is kind of indicative of the company they like to keep. So a cat is very low maintenance, you don't have to do a lot of work to keep the cat, but of dog lover has to be generous."
Does this data mean that pet preferences should play a role in dictating our future dating choices? Hmmm...
Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: The Wisdom of Dogs; Do Dogs Dream? Born to Bark; The Modern Dog; Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History; How Dogs Think; How To Speak Dog; Why We Love the Dogs We Do; What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs; Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies; Sleep Thieves; The Left-hander Syndrome
Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted, reposted without permission