I know a sexy, super-smart, super-successful woman who can resist the allure of men with big yachts, men with big country houses, men with big fortunes – but not men with small dogs. With them it’s love at first bark.  

And when it’s over I always say the same thing: how could you date that guy? And she always has the same reply: “But his dog was so sweet! How could I resist him?” This is puppy love at its worst.

My friend is not alone. New scientific research has proved what every man secretly knows – if you want to get a woman, get a dog. A recent survey of 750 dating profiles showed that men were posting pictures of themselves with a dog to signal to women that they were serious about wanting long-term relationships.

A picture of a man and his pooch says to women: I’m caring. I’m capable of commitment. Look, I’m loving and affectionate too! On the other hand, researchers found that blokes who post pics of themselves with boats, motorbikes, big fish and bare their big muscular chests in bathroom mirrors are to be avoided.  

Yes, every picture tells a story.  The question is: do these pictures of men with their dogs tell the true story? Never underestimate the tricks men will try to find a mate. Researchers have discovered that some are borrowing the dogs of friends to add to their dating profiles to “ensnare” women.

It happens offline all the time, too. Single men know that if you want to attract women all you have to do is wait outside a shop with a dog – it has to be a small dog, no macho bulldogs or scary Alsatians will work – and within 60 seconds you will be surrounded by admirers, ooh-ing and ahh-ing. They ask for your dog’s name; you ask for their telephone number.  

I just don’t understand the appeal of dog-man pics, myself. Women see a dating profile picture of man having his face licked by a mutt, or a shot of him kissing his dog on his runny nose, and instead of thinking “YUCK!” they think: “How sweet! Isn’t he lovely!”

Never mind issues of hygiene, the real trouble is that most men who have a dog have already found true love – it’s with their dog. They’re known as man’s best friend for a good reason. Do you really want to date a chap whose most significant relationship in his life is with a creature who provides him with unconditional love, total adoration, gratitude and complete obedience? Think you can compete with that?

I had a friend who dated a man who was a devoted dog lover. They met at a time when his dog – Elvis – was away with his ex-wife. Then the dog returned, and their romantic strolls in the park turned to routine doggy walks in the rain. “Holding the hand of a man who is also holding a plastic bag of dog poo in the other hand is a real passion killer,” she discovered.

They had to do everything – go to parties, dinners, even the cinema – with the damn hound. Echoing the words of Diana, Princess of Wales, my friend said: “There were three of us in that relationship: him, me and his dog.”  

And what happens when the man is lovely but his dog is a nightmare? A dog-loving friend told me about one promising date: “His dog had terrible breath and farted constantly – if I wanted that in a relationship I could have stayed my ex-husband.”  

To be fair, it’s just as difficult dating a woman with a dog. Years ago, I was mad about a girl – until her dog defecated on my carpet. It was her total lack of remorse that really bothered me. She grabbed the dog, gave it a hug and said: “Oh you sweet thing! I should have taken you for a walk. Isn’t he the sweetest thing?”

“No!” I said. “Your dog just pooed on my carpet! What am I supposed to say? Who’s a good boy? Give him a biscuit and tickle his tummy?”

She thought I was being so aggressive to her dog that she picked him up and left me to clean up his mess. It would never have worked anyway.

I’m not anti-dog, honest. It’s just that dog lovers really should only date other dog lovers. They love their dogs so much, you have to share that love or get left out in the cold.

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