Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 395–405 | Cite as

An Attachment Perspective on the Child–Dog Bond: Interdisciplinary and International Research Findings

  • Mary Renck Jalongo


Understanding the process of attachment formation in young children has been a focal point in child development research for decades. However, young children’s attachments are not only with human beings; they also form bonds with companion animals, particularly dogs (Canis familiaris). Given the number of dogs that are kept by families and the amount of time that young children spend with these animals, the child–dog bond merits further study. In this review of the literature, young children’s interactions with companion canines are explored from an attachment theory perspective. Research on human–animal interaction is a burgeoning field of inquiry that includes well-established disciplines (e.g., sociology, psychology, child development/family studies) as well as emerging fields, such as anthrozoology, neurobiology, ethology, and bioecology. This review is grounded is organized around four themes in the research: (1) the treatment of animals in the family; (2) influences on the child/dog bond; (3) the uniqueness of attachments formed with dogs; and (4) canine attachment behaviors. The review concludes with a discussion about why study of the child–companion animal attachment has lagged behind other areas of study and offers recommendations for future research.


Attachment theory Companion animals Human animal interaction (HAI) Child/dog bond 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IndianaUSA

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