Animal welfare within the human-dog dyad

The relationship between human mental health and pet dog problem behaviours.

  • Denae Dobko MacEwan University


Pet ownership interventions reduce owner stress and increase overall quality of life, and as such, pet ownership is sometimes considered as a method of treatment. However, to date research on the human-animal bond and pet ownership has primarily focused on the benefits for the human, and has paid little attention to welfare of the animal. From a caregiver perspective, the owner-pet dyad is analogous to the parent-child dyad. Studies on the parent-child dyad show that children are more likely to display stress-related behaviours if raised by parents who suffer from depression or anxiety, possibly due to social-modeling and the impact the environment has on learned behaviours. Additionally, parental depression is associated with child neglect. The purpose of this study is to see if these correlations also exists among the owner-pet dyad. Using the Inventory of Anxiety and Depression Symptoms (IDAS) and the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ), we will measure university students’ level of anxiety and depression, and problem behaviours in their pet dog. Our expected findings are positive correlations between level of owner depression and anxiety, and problem behaviours, typical of stress, in the owner’s pet dog. Furthermore, we expect to find negative correlations between owner depression and owner level of pet dog care. These findings will help to better understand the human-dog dyad and assist clinicians in making informed, ethical decisions while promoting live-in-animal-assisted interventions.

Discipline: Psychology Honours

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Eric Legge