The nature and psychological impact of child/adolescent attachment to dogs compared with other companion animals
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Building on a study examining children’s knowledge and care of companion animals, this paper examines emotional attachment to dogs. It uses a large-scale dataset on children’s health and well-being (n = 6,700) to explore the connection between attachment to dogs, compared with other companion animals, and a range of well-being indicators. Findings reveal stronger attachments to dogs that are linked with well-being. Some associations are also evident for children reporting a strong bond with small mammals. A mixed pattern of results is evident for cats, and no associations were apparent for those with fish, reptiles, or amphibians. Relationships with dogs appear distinctive; children’s sense of emotional reciprocity and shared enjoyment of play act as possible mechanisms by which attachment translates into benefits. Emotional connections to all types of animals investigated in this study weaken with age. This may be due to the changing nature of attachment as children move through adolescence.
Muldoon , J C , Williams , J M , Lawrence , A & Currie , C 2019 , ' The nature and psychological impact of child/adolescent attachment to dogs compared with other companion animals ' , Society & Animals , vol. 27 , no. 1 , pp. 55-74 . https://doi.org/10.1163/15685306-12341579
Society & Animals
© 2018, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1163/15685306-12341579
DescriptionThis work was partially supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [grant numbers AW1404 and AW1407]
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