We love dogs. They’re loyal, comforting and boundlessly loving. But do we love them more than we love the people in our lives?
A new study suggests that this may be the case for some men.Research by US psychologist Dr Chris Blazina suggests that many men find their relationship and attachment to their dog to be more secure than their closest human relationships. In the research Dr Blazina analysed a number of studies to further understand how bonding with a pet can enrich men’s lives.
In one nationwide study in the US, men were asked to compare their closest human and animal companion on how secure their bond felt.
In 62% of cases an attachment with an animal companion was labelled as ‘almost always’ a secure one.
Only 10% of men labelled their closest human companion in the same way. The most common classification for a human bond was ‘sometimes.’
Suggesting that men have closer emotional bonds with their pets than with the humans in their lives.‘One study I did found that as men get older – middle age and beyond – their dogs took on an even more significant role,’ says Dr Blazina.
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‘Middle aged men reported relying more heavily upon their animal companions for emotional support.
‘This was important because research suggests that social support networks really shrink as men age – to about the size of a postage stamp; men have their significant other and their dogs.’
Dr Blazina started looking into the relationship between man and canine after his own beloved dog passed away and he experienced intense grief.‘When I started grieving the loss of my old friend part of that process was to understand why Kelsey was so important in my life,’ he explains.
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‘One of the realisations was grief involving people was a lot like grief with an animal companion.
‘We build an attachment, we deal with loss, and we try to preserve some parts of our bond. The later part is sometimes referred to as a continuing bond.’
Dr Blazina believes that owning a dog could be a crucial tool in helping to break down the emotional barriers that many men face in modern society.
‘I realised my story was not unique. Animal companions seemingly broke through much of the male socialised barriers that others could not,’ he explains.
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‘It was a special bond that needed more exploration and understanding.’