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Example of the human-canine bond

Human–canine bonding is the relationship between dogs and people.[citation needed]

Dogs are domesticated co-descendants of modern wolves and have a significant impact and role in human lives. In the United States, over 48% of households have a pet dog.[1]



A Labrador Retriever with his owner on a jetski

The same concept was recognised in Boris Levinson's books Pet-Oriented Child Psychotherapy (1969) and Pets and Human Development (1979), which had an immense influence on the establishment of the field of study. Levinson is known for accidentally discovering the benefits of assisted pet therapy. He found that withdrawn and uncommunicative children would interact positively whenever he brought his dog, Jingles, to their therapy sessions. His discovery was further reinforced by Sam and Elizabeth Corson at Ohio State University, who were among the first to research and evaluate pet-facilitated therapy.[2]

Only in the early 1980s was the term 'human–animal bond' officially coined by Leo K. Bustad, who delivered a summary lecture on the Human-Pet Relationship on October 28, 1983, at the International Symposium in Vienna. This symposium was held in honour of Konrad Lorenz, and during his lecture, Bustad praised him for his work on the human–animal bond and encouraged others to build on Lorenz's work on the subject.[3] Lorenz later adopted it in his research on imprinting in geese.[4]

Bustad and other pet therapy advocate formed the Delta Society, which was built on the earlier work of Levinson and Croson.[2] In the 1970s and 1980s, national and international conferences led to greater recognition of the human–animal bond. Since then, there has been widespread media coverage of animal-assisted activity and therapy programs and service dog training.[3]


A combat tracker dog handler with his dog

According to the social support theory, animals are a source of social support and companionship, which are necessary for well-being.[4][5] Support is seen for the social support theory in the influence of a pet on an empty-nester family. In this view, the animal is part of our community and is an important determinant for psychological well-being.

According to self psychology, an animal can be a "self-object" that gives a sense of cohesion, support, or sustenance to a person's sense of self. Self-psychology explains why some animals are so crucial to a person's sense of self and well-being.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Catanzaro, T. E. (2003). Section introduction: Human-animal bond and primary prevention. American Behavioral Scientists, 47, 29-30. doi: 10.1177/0002764203255209
  3. ^ a b Hindes, L. M. (2003). Historical perspectives on the human-animal bond. American Behavioral Scientists, 47(1), 7-15. doi: 10.1177/0002764203255206
  4. ^ a b Nitkin, Patricia. "The Human-Animal Bond", B.C. Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia. Retrieved on 2011-06-19.
  5. ^ Beck, Alan M. (2003) "Future Directions in Human-Animal Bond Research," American Behavioural Scientist, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp. 79-93.
  6. ^ Brown, Sue-Ellen (2011) "Self Psychology and the Human-Animal Bond: An Overview," The Psychology of the Human-Animal Bond, part 2, pp. 137-149.

Further readingEdit

Daly, Beth & Morton, L. L. (2009). "Empathetic Differences in Adults as a Function of Childhood and Adult Pet Ownership and Pet Type" Anthrozoos, 22(4), p371-382.
  • Health benefits: Gillum, Richard F. & Obisesan, Thomas O. (2010). "Living with Companion Animals, Physical Activity and Mortality in a U.S. National Cohort" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 7(6), 2452-2459.
  • Animal-assisted therapy and Animal-assisted activities: Friesen, Lori. (2009). "Exploring Animal-Assisted Programs with Children in School and Therapeutic Contexts" Early childhood education journal, 37(4), p261-267.