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Helicoptering Your Pets...Go Ahead

 I had never heard of the term “helicopter parenting” before. I guess it refers to parents who constantly hover over their children. Not good.

However, helicopter parenting is GOOD for your pets.  In an online survey of more than 1000 pet owners nationwide, it was found, “Those who expressed the greatest affection for their pets were also the most conscientious and neurotic, suggesting that the qualities that work for domesticated canine and feline companions who require lifelong parenting works.” It just doesn’t work for children.

“The fact that higher levels of neuroticism are associated with affection and anxious attachment suggests that people, who score higher on that dimension, may have high levels of affection and dependence on their pets, which may be a good thing for pets,” said Mikel Delgado, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley and co-author of the study.

There was a similar study in 2010 by the University of Texas psychologist Sam Gosling which showed dog owners to be more extroverted but less open to new experiences while cat owners are more neurotic but more creative and adventurous.

This is the first US study to incorporate the principles of human attachment theory which assesses the bond between parents and children with pet owner’s personality types including whether they identify as a “dog person” or “cat person.”

It is also the first study to find a positive correlation between neuroticism, anxious attachment and the care of and affection for pets.  People who scored high on anxious attachment tended to need more reassurance from their pets. Conversely, people who rated high on avoidance attachment, which refers to a less affectionate and more withdrawn temperament, are much less needy. However, both dog and cat lovers scored low on avoidant attachment, which suggests both personality types enjoy close relationships with their pets.   (Study published in Science 2.0)

Hmm. I am not as neurotic about my relationships with our dogs as my husband. Sometimes I have to remind him “He’s a dog.” But truly when I feel sick or unhappy, I go to the dogs to comfort me with varying results. Obi, our golden retriever/English setter mix, would lick my face; Magic, our lab mixed with who-knows-what, would come into the same room and stay with me; Baskerville, the Malamute/German Shepherd, could have cared less (we think she was really a cat); Brandy, our golden retriever/cocker spaniel, stayed close; and Midnight, our American lab, not sure what he does. He comes running when HE feels upset and needy and demands our attention with loving and petting. I don’t think our needs trigger anything from him. But aren’t pets absolutely wonderful?

 

 


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