Dogfishing is the new catfishing - and you've probably been hooked.

I have a friend, Sammy, who online-dates like a champion. Her phone is constantly pinging with new messages and matches, and every week from Wednesday through Saturday she’s out with young single guys, living her best life.

But when it comes to Bumble, Tinder et al, she has one rule: if she sees a picture of a man with a dog, she keeps right on swiping.

“I get so annoyed, I make a point not to talk to them,” she shares.

We translate modern dating. Spoiler: it sucks. Post continues after video

Video by MMC

Sammy is, of course, the minority. In a 2015 study titled “The Roles of pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating”, published in the quarterly research journal Anthrozoos, findings showed women were more likely to take pet ownership into account when considering a potential mate – and listed dogs as more compelling “social tools” than cats.

Well duh.

There’s just something about seeing men with their loyal pups that gets our serotonin spiking. It sends a signal that says, ‘this man is caring. He knows how to look after another living thing. He committed to that dog.’

But what happens when the very good boy in the profile pic isn’t his? What if it’s…a stunt dog? Loaned to him by a friend for the specific purpose of luring you in?

This is what Sammy – and a host of other eligible young women – are taking issue with.

The official term for the trend is ‘dogfishing.’ It’s like catfishing, except instead of borrowing someone else’s face, you commandeer their canine.

And head’s up gents: it’s backfiring.

In the pursuit of making yourself look more sensitive, you might actually be coming across as a f*ckboy. Remember Bill from The Bachelorette? The guy straight up told us on national television he uses his French Bulldog Arnie as lady-bait.

Exhibit A



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A post shared by BILL GOLDSMITH ???????? (@bill.michael.goldsmith) on

But at least his dog is, you know, his.

“Of course the cute fluffy pooch reels you in,” says Katy, 31. “A guy and a puppy? I am hook, line and sinker… but it’s a real stab in the heart when he comes back with, ‘Oh, that’s my mum’s dog…'”

So. Is borrowing a dog as a conversation-starter… deceitful? Maybe a little. On the scale of bad-stuff-people-do-online, though, it registers as fairly harmless – unless it precludes a repeated pattern of lying or deceptive behaviour. (Plus, it’s more ethical than posing with a sedated tiger. That never worked for anyone.)

And, as Katy points out, “It depends how much access they have to the dog. If it’s in the family, that makes the blow a little softer. But if they’ve literally just picked up a random dog, you’ve got to ask yourself – what else are they lying about?”

But before we point fingers, let’s just take a good hard look at ourselves. Are we not guilty of “fishing” in our own ways?

A straw poll of women in my general orbit says yes, yes we are.

Maybe we’re all doing the exact same thing, just more…creatively? Like Jess, 24, who uses her music preferences on Tinder to appeal to more alternative guys.

“I make mine a bit more indie than my actual basic bitch playlist,” she confesses. “I probably listen to a lot more Top 40 than Chance The Rapper.”


One colleague’s main profile picture is a photo of herself on a hike  (subtext: I’m outdoorsy!). She doesn’t even like hiking.

And is ‘sport-fishing,’ a thing? Like that time I used a photo of myself at the footy because I looked cute in the scarf?

I know nothing of the sports. WE’RE ALL LIARS.

Image of dog
When even your dog is suss on you. Image: Getty.

I think a simple disclaimer should solve the problem here. You know how guys write ‘not my kid’ when there’s a pic of them holding someone else’s baby? They should do that for dog pics. And in turn, we shall declare: ‘not my kayak,’ or ‘not really that into fitness.’

And if you meet a guy online who really DOES own his dog, don't assume that means you're compatible, Katy warns.

“I matched with a guy - let’s call him Matt - who featured a whole gallery of pictures of him with his two dogs.

The first pic was really cute... but then it got weird. There were pics of him and the dogs in birthday hats, him and the dogs on holidays... literally no other humans. From our short chat, I gauged that his dogs were his only friends.”

So there's always... that.

Have you been dogfished? Are YOU a dogfisher? Let us know in the comments

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