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Three types of dog-human relationships seen

Relationships between dogs and their owners generally fall into three distinct categories, according to a university researcher.

As a result, says David Blouin, a cultural sociologist at Indiana University South Bend, some dogs live pampered lives while others are still expected to work for a living, all depending usually on their owner’s lot in life.

Blouin, according to Science Daily, says the attitudes of dog owners generally fall into one of three following categories:

  • Humanists, who highly value their dogs and consider them close companions, treat their pets almost like pseudo people, or surrogate children.
  • Protectionists, often vegetarians, greatly value animals in general, not just as pets.
  • Dominionists, who see animals as less important than people, often use their dogs for hunting, guarding or pest control and require them to live outdoors.

“I found it interesting that there are different ways to relate to and think about animals and that people are able to switch and latch onto a different way of thinking about and treating animals when other things happen in their lives, like having children,” said Blouin, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Blouin conducted 28 in-depth interviews with dog owners from a Midwestern county.  Blouin said the distinct orientations toward animals are a result of personal experiences, demographic characteristics and family structure. Rural dog owners were more likely to leave their pets outside, for example. Empty-nesters seemed to be the most attached to their pets.

“People don’t make this stuff up themselves,” Blouin said. “They learn how animals should be treated. There are different ideas out there and these ideas exist in little packages, which are promoted by different groups, like the Humane Society or kennel clubs.”


Comment from Got Dog Kennels
Time August 13, 2009 at 8:47 pm

And then there are those that use them for dog fighting… and other cruel activities.

Comment from Lauren Hinsman
Time August 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm

I am a vegetarian who shares my home with a pit rescue and a pure bred labrador who will be hunting next fall. It is possible to love animals, have animals and allow them to use their skills.

Comment from Fred Haney
Time March 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm

This is a great topic. People would enjoy their dogs more if they focused on building a strong and trusting relationship. We’ve linked this article at http://www.mydoggiesays.com/blog.