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Pet owner behaviors and attachment to yard versus house dogs

By E. R. Shore, M. L. Riley, D. K. Douglas

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The majority of research on the human-nonhuman animal bond has considered its advantages for the human. Research investigating the benefits of the bond for the companion animal has focused primarily on the relationship between owner attachment and the relinquishment or abandonment of pets. Shore, Douglas and Riley (2005) compiled a list of 67 behaviors of pet owners of potential benefit to the dog or cat, categorized the behaviors as Essential, Standard, Enriched, or Luxury Care, and studied the relationship between these behaviors and a measure of attachment. The present study continues the investigation of more routine pet-keeping activities by examining the prevalence of such behaviors among a subset of dog owners who keep their dogs out of doors as compared with those whose dogs live primarily in the house. Participants were 322 largely non-traditional college students at a university in the Midwestern United States. Scores on two attachment measures were significantly higher for owners of house dogs as compared with those of owners of yard dogs. Although the majority of both house and yard dogs received basic care, fewer yard dogs received as high levels of attention to some of their physical and safety needs. The gap between yard and house dogs widened as the category of care moved from Essential to Enriched. Involvement in agility training, being taken to events for pets, and exercising with a member of the family were notable exceptions, in that they occurred in equal proportions for yard and house dogs, and perhaps represent opportunities for yard dogs to be in closer contact with a human caretaker. The results suggest that adoptions of sheltered or rescued dogs to people who plan to keep the pet outside can be made with confidence that the dog will be cared for, but that programs to educate the public on the social needs of dogs and the benefits of keeping dogs indoors might result in increased attention to the needs of the animals, strengthening of the human-nonhuman animal bond, and reduction of relinquishment.

Date 2006
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 325-334
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Psychology Department, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS 67260-0034,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. Attachment behavior
  4. Bonds
  5. Developed countries
  6. Dogs
  7. Human-animal relationships
  8. Human behavior
  9. Mammals
  10. North America
  11. OECD countries
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. Pet owners.
  14. Pets and companion animals
  15. Primates
  16. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed