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Spotlight on the psychological basis of childhood pet attachment and its implications

Authors Wanser SH, Vitale KR, Thielke LE, Brubaker L, Udell MAR

Received 5 March 2019

Accepted for publication 16 May 2019

Published 28 June 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 469—479


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Einar Thorsteinsson

Shelby H Wanser, Kristyn R Vitale, Lauren E Thielke, Lauren Brubaker, Monique AR Udell

Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

Abstract: Research suggests that humans can form strong attachments to their pets, and at least some pets display attachment behaviors toward their human caretakers. In some cases, these bonds have been found to support or enhance the physical and emotional well-being of both species. Most human–animal interaction research to date has focused on adult owners, and therefore less is known about childhood pet attachment. However, there is growing evidence that pets may play an important role in the development and well-being of children, as well as adult family members. Research conducted to date suggests that child–pet relationships may be especially impactful for children who do not have stable or secure attachments to their human caretakers. However, given that human–animal interactions, including pet ownership, can also introduce some risks, there is considerable value in understanding the nature of child–pet attachments, including the potential benefits of these relationships, from a scientific perspective. The purpose of this review is to provide background and a brief overview of the research that has been conducted on childhood attachment to pets, as well as to identify areas where more research would be beneficial.

Keywords: human–animal interactions, pet ownership, attachment style, secure base, child development

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