How pets affect a person's mental well-being

How pets affect a person's mental well-being

People get a cat or a dog for comfort and companionship, and it’s good when a person’s relationship with a pet develops for mutual benefit. But many people know that there are problems in relationships with pets, and not always through the fault of the latter. Scientists from the University of Helsinki decided to figure out what the connection is between the characters of all participants in this relationship.

Almost all cat and dog owners consider their pets to be full members of the family. And relationships with them are built in much the same way as with children. Scientists note the same way of forming attachment between an owner and a pet as in an adult with a child. Just as in the case of a child, problems with attachment may arise, in the case of animals, not everything always goes smoothly. And a certain pattern can be traced, which scientists from the University of Helsinki decided to analyze. They published their research in the journal iScience.

This is the first such study that takes into account the personality traits of not only owners, but also pets. And it examines two types of attachment deviations: anxious type attachment and avoidant type. Scientists did not come up with separate terms and used those that are used to describe the types of attachment of an adult and a child.

Anxious attachment type - this is when the owner wants to constantly be close to his pet, is afraid of losing him, and becomes anxious when he lets the animal out of sight. With avoidant attachment typeOn the contrary, the owner maintains a high degree of independence, emphasizes personal space, and reduces communication with the pet to a minimum.

The study participants included 2,724 owners (92% of them women), 2,545 dogs and 788 cats. Using surveys, scientists studied symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, level of life satisfaction, etc. from their owners. And the level of psychophysical well-being (or rather, ill-being) of animals was assessed by manifestations of undesirable behavior, such as aggression, fear, increased impulsivity, hyperactivity, etc. .P.

The study showed: if the owner is constantly worried, nervous, if he is not satisfied with his life, then he is more likely to worry about his pet. And most often, with such an owner, the cat will demonstrate hyperactivity, and the dog will be fearful.

Anxious attachment with animals is less likely to develop in an owner who has children. Apparently, the owner-parent spends all his anxiety on the children, but the animals no longer get it. Attachment with a higher degree of anxiety is also formed in cases where a psychophysically well-off owner has a very active and playful cat that constantly requires attention, or an insecure dog that constantly wants to be protected and protected.

If an owner strives to be independent, spends little time with the pet, and does not give it personal attention, the dog is likely to be aggressive or show signs of what is known in humans as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As one of the authors of the study, Ada Stol, explains, “perhaps in a threatening situation, the owner does not give his dog a sufficient sense of security, which provokes fear and aggression in the dog.”

As for cats, in this case they will be less eager to communicate with the owner or other people and will prefer to demonstrate their independence in every possible way. A high degree of detachment in a relationship will also occur if the owner gets a very independent cat or a not very sociable dog.

Scientists note that a deeper understanding of the character of the person himself and a correct understanding of the character of the pet at the stage when the pet is just being chosen to take home are very important. It is also important to understand the factors influencing the formation of attachment between owners and pets.

In the end, an informed choice and proper relationship building with a pet will improve the life of not only the cat or dog, but also the owner himself. And since most often it is adults who get a pet and most often choose kittens or puppies rather than adults, then the owners have more influence on their pets than vice versa.

The authors of the study also note that if a situation arises when there is a need to change the unwanted behavior of a dog or cat, then greater results in correction can be achieved if we take into account the already formed type of attachment in the relationship with the owner.

Alena Miklashevskaya

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