His Entire World...Homeless Man and His Best Friend, Brandy the Dog.

We've heard it before. A scorn woman professing that her ex -- like all men -- is a dog. But what she may not have realized is just how accurate this description is. Men (as well as many women) are, in fact, like dogs, but not because of their inability to control impulses or because of crude remarks about other women. No, men are like dogs for other reasons, and understanding this may help keep your relationship with your partner on the right track.

Men Need Affection

I Love My DogBonds are made through physical affection. Be it a gentle touch, a gaze into the eyes, or something more intimate, physical closeness is a necessary part of developing any interpersonal relationship.   

When we experience skin-on-skin contact (or skin-on-fur contact), our brains release endorphins which create feelings of attachment and comfort. Additionally, dopamine which is released during mate selection, also encourages the release of oxytocin (also known as the "cuddle hormone"), which has been shown to reduce stress levels in both human and animal test subjects, according to Psychology Today[1]. This means that physical closeness not only improves a couple's ability to bond, but actually reduces stress caused by outside factors. So bust out the massage oils. Your relationship might depend on it. 

Love Through Physical Activity

Small Dogs PlayingAs a female, my idea of bonding happens through self-disclosure. I could talk for hours about my life experiences, my feelings about certain things or my hopes and dreams for the future and, though any interested partner may humor me for a while, this is not the bonding tool that men (or dogs) require[2].   

Just like dogs, men bond more thoroughly through physical activity; a game of catch, a romp around the living room or a long walk are all examples of ways that both men and dogs connect with their partners for the long haul.  

If you want your significant other to be happy in the relationship, make sure you factor in time to spend together doing challenging physical activities. An occasional game of disc golf might not hurt, either. 

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Direct Communication is Key

Paw Listens Intently for His Next Assignment

This is not to say that men don't have an attention span longer than a dog's, but it does imply that important information should be delivered directly[3].If you want your significant other to plan a birthday party for you, don't go into the conversation by stating that it's been years since you've had a party for yourself and how you feel bad planning something because you think its presumptuous and besides, you're too busy anyway, so you just don't know if you should even worry about it except that this is the last birthday of your 20's so you just don't know and blah, blah, blah...Just tell him you want a party!  

Taking this a step farther, any important information you want your partner to know should not be delivered while he is distracted. Don't bombard him with heavy info as soon as he walks in the door or while he's yelling at the television during the Final Four. If the conversation you plan to have with your man is important to you, make sure you have his attention, first. Plan a time to talk if you need to, but don't be angry if he can't focus on your issues when he's busy with his own.   

If the long-awaited conversation doesn't go as planned, don't be afraid to leave or ask him the same until you can both regroup and talk effectively (which includes listening with the intent of understanding rather than listening to develop a response). 

As advanced as the human species is, we are still animals underneath it all. We all have basic needs and we do our best to meet those needs. But when men and women portray those needs in different ways, we come to believe that we are practically different species.  

If you want to improve your relationship with your significant other, then it is important to try to meet those needs in the most effective way possible. Sometimes, that means taking a step back and looking closely at your K9 friend for the bonding tactics. Because Fido loves you, and so does your partner, and they both want to know you love them, too.