Centre for Confidence and Well-being

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Animal companionship

Any pet owner with a pet will tell you they would not give up that companionship for anything. For most people, the relationship to their pet is perceived as positive and less demanding than human relationships. This is because people feel they don’t have to put as much effort into pleasing their pets, as they would otherwise do with humans. This mainly arises from the fact that human relationships can be difficult and quite often negative or simply frustrating. They also have limits. For instance when in need, there can be boundaries as to the level of support we expect from family or friends before we may be considered a burden.

The story is different for pet companions. Once a cat has been fed and had its litter box emptied, it is content. Even those with pets deemed as ‘demanding’ such as dogs, the walk in the park is not perceived as challenging. For dog owners, getting up in the morning to take their dog for a walk is considered a small price, or no price at all, for the companionship benefits they get. Pet owners are thus happy to fulfil the small requirements that make their animals happy. It has, however, recently emerged that animals offer more than just companionship. Researchers investigating this phenomenon argue that pet ownership is positively correlated with well-being. This is because pets provide activity, companionship and unconditional love.


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