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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Be Careful, Bestie — You Might Become A Victim Of “Dogfishing”

You know, as a girl who’s just trying to find her hot rodent boyfriend this hot girl summer, I’ve been scrolling through my dating apps like there’s no tomorrow. I know, I know, it’s kind of pathetic to scour these platforms in the quest for love — or at least a good time — but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right? But seriously — is it just me, or is my dating pool dogfishing me?

Gone are the days of posing with a freshly caught fish (thank goodness, actually — this one was giving major red flags). Now, it’s all about flaunting that furry companion. You know the type: the potential partner whose profile is dominated by snapshots of cuddling a fluffy Golden Retriever or playing fetch with their pooch at the park. It’s cute, for sure, but is it really that genuine? Or is it just dogfishing?

For those on the hunt for more than just a fleeting moment of puppy love, the rise of dogfishing absolutely raises questions. Is that adorable Labradoodle truly theirs, or just a prop for a swipe-right? And more importantly, what does it say about someone who leans on their pet to make that first impression? Where authenticity is a trait that reigns best in show in the dating field, dogfishing blurs the lines between man and man’s best friend, almost as bad as catfishing. Sure, a shared love for dogs can be the ultimate conversation starter, but is it enough to truly build a meaningful connection and find the partner pick of the online dating litter?

What is Dogfishing?

Dogfishing is a slang term that refers to the practice of someone using pictures of dogs, often borrowed from the internet, on their dating profiles to attract attention and appear more appealing, especially to dog lovers or those who find pets endearing. It’s similar to catfishing, where someone creates a deceptive online persona, but in this case, it involves using a cute dog as a lure.

It might be seen as a tactic to appear more caring, approachable, or to spark conversations about pets. However, it can seriously backfire if the person is not genuinely interested in dogs or if they mislead others about their own pet ownership.

@dilfology.com

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Does Dogfishing Work?

In a swipe-heavy culture, where first impressions are everything, the dog-in-photo strategy speaks volumes about the desire for meaningful companionship. Showcasing your furry friend might just be the perfect icebreaker to show your caring and sociable side. Whether you’re bonding over walks in the park or cuddling on the couch, sharing your life with a dog can be a wonderful way to connect on a deeper level. According to a study from the University of Jaén in Spain, many daters feel more comfortable and inclined to match with someone when they see them with a dog in their photos.

Interestingly, the type of dog matters, too. Photos with smaller dogs tend to resonate better than those with larger or more imposing breeds. This subtle detail not only sparks initial interest but also sets a friendly and approachable tone, making it easier to start a meaningful conversation.

What’s The Problem With Dogfishing?

Believe it or not, many online dating users really don’t see an issue with using a dog in their photo. In fact, some even aim to snap a pic with one in the first place because it supposedly results in better matches. For years, people have strategically included adorable dogs to attract potential matches, often without confirming ownership. Some defend this by never explicitly claiming the dog as theirs, but it raises ethical questions about honesty and authenticity in dating profiles.

Using a dog that isn’t yours can feel like a gray area — some argue it’s harmless fun, while others view it as misleading. But beyond the debate lies a deeper appeal: the presence of a dog suggests a capacity for close relationships. It hints that someone who cares for a pet can extend that same care and affection to others, even potential partners.

So, next time you’re setting up your profile, why not let a dog take center stage? (I may or may not have included a couple of dog pics in my recent profile update.) Highlighting your furry friend could fetch you more meaningful connections — hopefully not just swipes, but someone who loves both you and your beloved pet.

Lily Brown

Emerson '25

Lily Brown is the Wellness Intern for Her Campus Media. She writes for the Culture, Style, and Wellness verticals on the site, including Beauty, Decor, Digital, Entertainment, Experiences, Fashion, Mental Health, and Sex + Relationships coverage. Beyond Her Campus, Lily is a rising senior at Emerson College in Boston, MA, majoring in Journalism with a Publishing minor. She works as the Creative Director for the on-campus lifestyle publication, Your Magazine, where she establishes and curates the conceptual design and content for the entire publication ranging from style, romance, music, pop culture, personal identity, and college experiences. She has written and photographed for Your Mag along with several other on-campus magazines. Lily was recently recognized for her work on YM and awarded two EVVYs for Outstanding Print Publication. In her free time, Lily maybe spends a little too much time keeping a close eye on captivating red carpet and runway fashion, and binge-watching her favorite shows. She also enjoys expressing her thoughts through creative writing, exploring new destinations, and blasting ABBA, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, and Lady Gaga on Spotify. Additionally, she actively contributes to fostering a sense of community among college residents as a dedicated Residential Assistant.