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‘Man’s Best Friend’ – But Is The Feeling Mutual?

3 months ago

12th April, 2022 18h41

Dogs Trust

New research from Dogs Trust suggests new approaches to understanding our special bond

Dogs Trust has released new research which shows we still have a way to go in exploring whether dogs invest in the human/dog bond in the same way their owners do.

When the UK’s largest canine charity carried out a series of interviews with different types of dog owner to explore this bond, it found that current methods used to measure it focus on the human side and all too often fail to capture the dog’s perspective.

Understanding the bond between owners and their dogs, and the reasons why it sometimes breaks down, is an important aspect of the charity’s work in trying to reduce the number of people who give up their dogs because they are no longer to cope, or no longer want them.

Through a series of interviews conducted with different kinds of dog guardian, including owners of a single dog, multiple dogs, and assistance dogs, the charity’s research team discovered several seemingly common themes in establishing a bond between dog and owner – particularly understanding the dog’s perspective.

These included adaptation; respecting boundaries (set by both human and dog); understanding (and being empathetic to) a dog’s preferences, likes and dislikes in order to support them emotionally and increase the “quality time” spent together. A full summary can be read here:

Some of the best ways owners can establish a special bond with their dog include:

Dogs Trust Head of Research, Dr Melissa Upjohn, and Dr Lauren Samet who lead the research said:

It’s easy to assume that dogs feel the same way as we do about our special bond - but we’ll never really know unless we start asking the right questions and start to really look at it from the dog’s perspective.

“The more we understand the dog’s point of view, the better equipped we are to support both dogs and owners in building and maintaining healthy bonds in their lives together.”

To find out more about using positive reinforcement-based training methods visit Dogs Trust’s Dog School pages. Dog School is Dogs Trust’s affordable in-person and virtual training course that offers small group classes, reward-based training to encourage positive behaviour and help you to understand your dog and prevent future problems.

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