A new perspective on the bond between human beings and animals: A study on the human-dog and human-horse relationship
The aim of this study was to investigate whether and to what extent human attachment theory explains the bond between humans and animals. We examined whether the five main dimensions, outlined by Bowlby also exist in human-dog and human-horse relationships. A sample of 592 Italian adult dog and/or horse owners was tested using the Reciprocal Attachment Questionnaire (RAQ) to analyze their intra-specific relationships, while two adapted versions of the RAQ were used to investigate human-dog (RAQ-HD) and human-horse (RAQ-HH) bonds. The results indicate that the construct of the human-dog and human-horse relationship appears to be based only on three of the five main dimensions of Bowlby’s attachment theory: namely, proximity seeking, separation protest, and feared loss. These findings suggest that the bond between adult humans and animals, although long-lasting, intense, and psychologically and emotionally important, can be viewed as a bond of affection and not as a real attachment bond.