Sarah Wilson, a dog trainer, was recently interviewed in a magazine article in reference to her master’s thesis which is about women and their dogs. She feels that what women are intuitively attracted to in a dog are the same things she’ll enjoy in a mate. (I’m sure this applies to men as well, but she’s studying women.) Why would you choose a live-in companion you’re incompatible with?

Wilson surveyed a lot of women and found they described their men and their dogs similarly. She described her own husband and dogs as “rugged, protective, funny and intelligent.” “I’m not a fan of fawning in man or beast,” she added.


To find out about a puppy’s temperament she recommends stressing the animal. “Response to stress,” Wilson says, “is pretty basic – hard to change in a person or a dog.”

There are those who would say when you’re stressed the “true you” comes out, but here at EQ Central, we know it’s just the “stressed you” that comes out. We recommend a long courtship so you can find out how your honey reacts to stress. It is hard to change, but it can be tempered if you’re willing to work on your EQ. We’re always in process and one gift of intimate relationships is the gift of becoming a “better you.” But it’s good to glimpse the primal state.

The good news, as well as the bad news, is that you can’t date someone long without seeing them under stress these days. (Keep in mind if you’re dating again at midlife, one of the things that makes us able to tolerate stress well is being in a stable, loving relationship. Coupled with the fact that dating itself is stressful, subtract a few points from the intensity of their stress-reaction. Men are particularly looney when unattached and can change sometimes dramatically when reconnected again. Give it time, because time will tell.)

Stress calls up the reptilian brain – the fight or flight. So let’s look at puppy options. We stress the puppy and here are some of the things it might do:

1. Run and hide under the bed.
2. Shake and urinate on the floor.
3. Lock in position and bark incessantly.
4. Turn over on its back, in the submissive position, legs in the air, and whimper.
5. Snarl at you, snap or bite.
6. Bite itself, like that nervous self-chewing.
7. Neither extremely submissive nor extremely dominant, sitting back reflectively on its haunches and looking at you curiously (the doggie equivalent of talking it out).

People have analogous reactions, so name your poison (eliminating the obvious extremes no on could live with). All couples fight, and we all fight over the same things – money, sex, the kids, housework, and from H.A.L.T. – when one or both of them is too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

What separates the winning relationships from the losing relationships is when the couple has good conflict resolution skills, able to soothe one another instead of escalate. In the ideal world, we would like our partner to remain calm but engaged, acknowledge our feelings and work for a peaceful solution to the problem. Most of us humans manage to do that sometimes. Whether your potential partner pouts, shouts or outs, are they aware of what’s going on and invested in improving your relationship?


To test her theory, I thought back on dogs I’ve owned and what worked and what didn’t. Since I had sons, I chose the dogs with the kids in mind, but there were two I choose mostly for myself within that parameter.

Booty was a Siberian husky. Like Wilson, I’m not big on fawning. I was also tired of droopy-eared dogs (the smell, the medication), vacuuming dog hair and listening to the boys sneeze, needed a dog I could pick up if necessary, and one that was good with kids. Booty fit the bill; probably the best breed in terms of allergies, no shedding, and they’re known for being protective of children. Huskies are also silent, like wolves. In other words, what I like is low maintenance, sociable but not desperate, protective of loved ones, and quiet. I loved her beauty, too, but that’s not something I must have, it’s a values-added extra.

However, the one I loved the most, was Texas John, a little Heinz 57 my son brought home. He was just a character – spunky, low maintenance, full of personality, and endearing – witness that he chewed a hole in my mink coat and lived to chew again. Though he was little, he was no lap dog. He held his own in a busy household (even the cat was bigger than he was). He was extremely stress tolerant. He managed never to get stepped on, and wasn’t nervous or yappy. These are things I like in a man -- independent, tough, steady nerves, and low maintenance, yet captivating. He had a swagger. In fact we sometimes referred to that little dog as “manly.”

But here’s what I liked best about him. We had 3 dogs at the time. Shy Nell, a stray my son brought home from college, Woody, a Basset, my other son’s choice, and then Weejums. In the morning when it was time to leave, I would go get 3 pieces of bread. Shy Nell and Woody would immediately come running. I would lead them to the back door with the bread, open the door, throw the bread out, and out they would go. Then I’d shut the door. Shy Nell would turn around, look at the door indignantly, surprised each time – “She threw me out! She shut the door!” Woody? As my son often said, “He’s not a dog, Mom. He’s a hound.”

And Texas John? When I got the bread out, Texas John headed for the bedroom and got under my bed, in the very middle, where I couldn’t reach him without a broomstick. He was the smartest dog we ever had, but there’s something else in the equation. Perhaps a bit of Wilson’s “funny” (Texas John made ma laugh) along with “not necessarily intimidated by me.” Whatever it is, when I meet the man who has it, I’ll be home free!


I think it’s a good theory! Think about it. Also that Wilson believes women who take their dogs to dog training sort out their emotional needs and there’s a “shift.” (Not all women need to take their dogs to dog training.) After all, we don’t call our dog successfully by saying, “Oh, please come here … would you mind? … I mean if you want to and it’s not too much trouble … oh never mind, I see you’re busy … ” We say, “Come.” And then we reward the dog, and he happily does it more and better.

Wilson says that after all these years, when she begins her training sessions, which are usually all women, she says, “Warn your boyfriend, warn your boss, warn your husband. It’s ALL going to shift.”

It has to do with your EQ – clarity of purpose, intent, and the skills to execute it.

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, , . Providing coaching, internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional success. Coach certification program – fast, affordable, no-residency. Susan is the author of “Midlife Dating Survival Manual for Women.” Need to check out the man you’re dating on the Internet? TheCloser, , has the answers. Don’t wonder, find out.