Better to have loved and lost? Human avoidant attachment style towards dogs predicts group membership as ‘forever owner’ or ‘foster carer’

Jannine M. Lockyer, Jessica L. Oliva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Important physiological, performance, and relationship differences have been reported between companion and working dogs. This study aimed to investigate how human attachment styles manifest towards dogs, depending on the dog’s role. Seeing Eye Dog (SED) carer (n = 25) and Companion Dog Owner (CDO) (n = 78) avoidant and anxious attachment scores towards the dog in their care were compared. Feelings and motivations about being a SED carer or CDO were also investigated qualitatively. Significant differences were observed between pet avoidance, with avoidance scores significantly predicting SED carer group membership. Qualitative insights revealed more human prosocial motivations for becoming a SED carer, and more dog‐related motivations for becoming a CDO, with CDOs more likely to consider their dog a ‘significant other’. This study corroborates findings supporting differences in human–dog relationships for working versus companion dogs. The potential impacts of human–dog attachment should be considered for SED success.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1679
Number of pages18
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Assistance
  • Attachment
  • Dog
  • Puppy
  • SED

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