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Human Animal Bond

Updated on October 10, 2014

Human and Animal Relationships

Animals have always had a great impact on humans, from the pets we hold dear to the farm animals that help feed us, to hunting animals for sport and food to conservation of endangered species, to animal research, and animal rights to entertainment and industry, to medical and veterinary science.

When we look at man and animals, it takes us back through history, through literature, through mythology, through societies, and culture. A look at man’s attitudes towards animals through time tells us much about our beliefs, and perspectives about ourselves in the past, present, and future.

Man’s relationship with animals is very complex, affecting all dimensions of our lives and our environment.

Understanding Our Relationship with Dogs

There is a lot to understand about all animals.
There is a lot to understand about all animals. | Source

What is Anthrozoology?

The study of human and animal interactions is called anthrozoology. Anthrozoology offers us all an opportunity to gain a stronger and better sense of respect responsibility we have for our non human species, our environment and nature as well.

The word anthrozoology comes from the Greek word anthropos which means human and the Greek word zoon which means animal. Anthrozoology is a fairly new field that was started in 1987. It is a field of study that fits with other professions including anthropology, biological and veterinary medicine, psychology, philosophy, sociology, zoology, evolutionists, naturalists and many other disciplines.

Many researchers want to quantify the positive effects that result between man and animal. Animal behaviorists are interested in anthrozoology because they study why animals do the things they do. They study and determine the factors that prompt certain behaviors and their changes. There are many factors that influence how and why an animal behaves from their eating habits, hormones, illnesses, weather, whether they are being a predator or protecting themselves from being prey, offspring, mating, and many other factors that impact their actions.

Anthrozoology studies the many ways we can accurately measure the benefits of the human animal relationships and the various ways animals impact, enrich, and enhance man. As we learn more about the interaction animals have on human beings, we can learn to take innovative and new approaches to disease prevention, the treatment and management of, and how this impacts man’s health challenges.

Man's Relationship with Animals


Animal Studies

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Human Animal Conflicts

Human beings have a very important relationship with wildlife, zoo animals, farm animals, and our companion animals. With greater understandings about how our inter-species relationships work, man can gain many quality of life benefits. Successful knowledge about animals, animal behavior, and the roles they can play with humans is success for man and success for other species. When human beings fail with other species, all suffer and all fail. So the study of anthrozoology is one of extreme importance. Many anthrozoologists use a multidisciplinary approach that helps us all learn more about how to make the relationship with animals succeed for all.

Animals permeate every aspect of our daily life, of society, of our culture. Our connection goes back to the dawn of man, and is interwoven in our history, in our development, in current times, and in our future. Animals are depicted in our literature, in our religions, in our self identity. Through the study of anthrozoology we can see how complex our relationship with animals is.

We love our pets as members of our own family. We rely on companion and service animals to do work that is beneficial to man. We spend money and research on conservation of animals and their environment to ensure their survival. We use farm animals to help us in agriculture. Yet we consume animals for meat, for material items, for sport. There is great controversy about animal rights, animal cruelty, in captivity, as entertainment, and for profit. Anthrozoology is a field that spans a broad range of topics, that poses many questions, and that connects to many professions and agencies.

Man and animals have a long history of interaction that is mixed with deep bonds, and controversy. By learning more about animal behavior and the human relationship, we can better understand the positive values that we gain from the domesticated and wild animals we share our planet with.

Why We Need Research in the Field of Anthrozoology

Understanding Animals

There are many reasons that motivate the interest in understanding and improving our interactions with all animals.

  • improving human health, happiness, and betterment of people’s lives

  • improving animal welfare and creating positive relationships with our companion animals

  • our planet will benefit when we promote the good that animals add to our natural

The research in human animal interaction only began in the 1980s. The majority of these studies have examined pet, companion animal, and agricultural research. Scientists are looking at the effects of animal intervention, and how pets benefit people’s health and quality of life. Agricultural research has been looking at the welfare of livestock and farm animals.

As more studies are conducted, it is expanding to gaining information about zoo, laboratory, and wild animals.

Most of the research done is not unified, but as more and more studies are conducted, scientists are learning more and more about the negative, positive, and neutral effects the human animal interaction has for man and animals.

People and Animals

People can help animals. Animals can help people.
People can help animals. Animals can help people. | Source

Research and Animals

The study of anthrozoology is particularly interesting to many worldwide agencies, to scientists, and to pet food companies. The Australian Anthrozoology Research Foundation conducts research to help increase our understanding of the benefits humans get from their relationship with animals.

Major pet food companies also fund research into the study of man and animal interaction. Much of this research is done to show how pets are beneficial to people, physically, psychologically, and sociologically.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) does research that offers support, insight, and programs that will benefit people and their pets.

ISAZ is the International Society for Anthrozoology. It began in 1991 to study human animal interaction using scientific and scholarly research to offer new discoveries and knowledgeable ideas for its members, students, scholars and professionals across many fields of study.

There are many organizations who are analyzing and studying the consequences and effects of human animal interactions that involve anthropology, animal behavior, medicine, psychology, zoology, conservation and veterinary medicine. By looking at all the different aspects of animal human relationships from how they are treated, their place in society, in literature, in religion, in culture, in science, and socially.

The Benefits of the Human Animal Bond

There are many ways that people perceive, interact, learn, compete, and co exist with other species. As anthrozoologists study this intricate and complex relationship we have with animals, they look to understand how people individually and collectively can benefit from the way animals affect their emotions in negative and positive ways.

The complicated relationship we have with animals is one that is full of contradictions. We love animals dearly, and spend billions on the care and feeding our pets with the best foods, grooming, treats and toys. We spend on veterinary care, looking to give our pets the same medical care we have available. Yet we euthanize roaming and abandoned pets. Billions of dollars are spent on conservation, yet even more is spent on hunting and our dietary needs. Animals are used in research, people rally for animal rights, and to reduce cruelty to animals, yet we keep animals in captivity for entertainment and profit. Scientists who specialize in anthrozoology are particularly interested in how people negotiate these political, ethical, and real world dilemmas.

The NIH - National Institutes of Health commissioned a study in 2008, costing $2.5 million to research how animals impact the health and well being of human beings. Most of the research focused on how pets affect children and what roles pet therapy can play in the betterment of children with autism for example.

Different Animals Different Interactions

There are many aspects that animals impact the lives of human beings.

We co exist on many levels with animals:

  • domestic

  • wild

  • as pet owners

  • service and companion animals

  • farming

  • food chain

  • hunting

  • sport

  • entertainment

  • industry

  • conservation

  • zoos

  • circus

  • agencies

  • animal cruelty

  • animal rights

  • animal research

  • history

  • evolution

  • research

  • science

  • past present future

  • attitudes towards animals

  • animal welfare

  • animal human bonds

  • animals and veterinary medicine

  • psychology

  • philosophy

  • sociology

  • science

  • religion

  • mythology

  • culture

  • society

  • environment

  • changing perceptions

Changing Perspectives About Animals

As our perceptions change, so does our dependency on animals. The roles they play and the roles we play both broaden and complicate the interaction. the social integration, the intimacy, and the dependence we have with our non human species.

Animals have the power to improve the lives of people and people have the power to enhance the natural world we share with animals. We pick and choose which animals we choose to care for. We invest in one species and not in another based on our own psychological interpretations, our own determinations of attractiveness, how closely they resemble being human, and this creates paradoxes within our interactions with animals.

Do we make these choices based on instinct, on observation, on what we have learned, on our culture, or an innate compulsion or is it a philosophical, psychological, sociological tendency that motivates us and guides us towards the attitudes we have towards the animals we share our planet with.


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    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Mary, I enjoyed reading your comments. I am glad you enjoyed this hub and I look forward to you visiting again. Your mini Schnauzer, Baby sounds adorable.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Bill, Thanks for your kind words. I always appreciate when you visit.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi My Bell, Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my hub. You are absolutely correct about how important it is to treat all animals kindly. Farm animals need to be treated fairly whether they are service animals or in the food chain. There is a need to create more awareness for the benefits of people and animals. I am glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Bobbie, Thank you for sharing your love of animals. I think pets and animals are so important to everyone whether they are animal lovers or not. But it is nice to know that you too are animal lover. Keep enjoying your furry friends and keep in touch.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi TLC, Thank you for your kind comments. I am very glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Art, Yes, anthrozoology is a fascinating topic and it is important that we all learn more about how animals, domestic and wild impact our lives and our world. I am very glad you learned something from my hub.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Words, It is amazing how pets are becoming a vital part of therapy. Look for my hub on this topic coming soon.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Poetry, Thanks for stopping by and reading my hub. Cuddly animals are always cute!

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Fire, I am so glad you enjoyed this hub. I enjoyed writing it. You are right, animals are such a big part of our world.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi MySuccess,

      The study of anthrozoology is a fascinating one because there are so many facets to our relationships with animals. As you have mentioned, even how we treat animals for our food supply. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my hub.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you for stopping my and reading my hub. I am glad to know you are an animal lover too. Two dogs are better than one. Enjoy your furry friends!

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent and interesting hub, and congrats on HOTD! I am blessed with four furbabies who make a daily impact on our lives, and are my constant reminder of the love, respect and compassion we should have for all creatures, along with the need to be their advocates. My pups are smart, intuitive, patient (at times), compassionate, fun and funny, and lovingly the best companions. They inspire me to do more with my life in helping animals, and I'm proud to say I take action whenever and wherever possible. Voted up!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi there, what a great piece you wrote. Hope you write more, Thanks Shane

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      6 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Thank you for this well-researched and -written hub, toknowinfo. Like many here, I did not know about the specific area of study of anthrozoology, and like Ron, just above me, I will be looking out for more on the topic.

      We share our home with a small multi-breed farm dog. Although I grew up with dogs as a child on a farm, in our marriage we did not succumb to puppy love until we had retired and moved away from the city (9 years ago). I am interested in how pet dogs and people interact somewhat differently from when I was a kid (or maybe I was just living in a bubble). When I grew up dogs (and sometimes cats) were not allowed to sleep with us. There were tales of how one could get any number of parasite problems from being in too close proximity to a dog, and one doesn't usually get much closer than sharing a bed. I continue to read about the parasites that even the cleanest, healthiest pet can transmit (see Dr. Hulda Clark, for example) but inspite of that, our pet does share our bed, she licks my husband's feet and EARS, and she expects to come along with us wherever we go (and she is taken- she has been on many cross-country trips, and on a long round-trip plane trip, which experience we will not subject her to again).

      While we ourselves are vegetarian, our fur child is not, of course, but she appears to like a broad array of veggies and has been known to turn up her nose at goat meat on the bone that she savoured the day before in preference for a piece of smoked tofu. We are very thankful for all the education around what doggies must not eat, etc. In my childhood, our farm dogs ate outside, usually from a can of Dr. Ballard's foul-smelling meat stuff (road kill?). They rarely came anywhere with us in the car, and we saw them as farm fixtures. They didn't have leashes and they didn't called pet-pet names like PookyDookyDoodles-- they were called names like Spooky or Rex or Coco. Period. They were faithful guard dogs and on their 'off days' they roved around the farm (and likely onto neighbours' farms) sometimes "getting skunked" or victimized by porcupines. I don't think our farm dogs ever saw a vet in their lives, except perhaps to be euthanized or to have the porcupine quills removed. And they certainly didn't sleep in our beds.

      I see many other differences-- perhaps mostly ideocentric (belonging to my own family "culture" only)-- but I will stop now. I also have trouble rounding off a story once I get going... sorry! Voted up, awesome, pinned and shared! ~Cynthia

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      6 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I never before knew there was a field of study called anthrozoology. Makes sense because, as you say, the interaction between humans and animals is a very important part of our lives. Now that I know it exists, I'll be looking to find out more about anthrozoology.

    • dianeknaus profile image

      Diane Knaus 

      6 years ago from Anne Arundel County, Maryland

      Great post, very interesting, shows you have done your research well. Thanks for posting this information.

      Diane Knaus

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Maria Giunta 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      People who love animals are lovely people and this is a great article on the bond between animals and humans. I'm sure the people who work in this field enjoy their job. Congrats on the HOTD, well deserved.

    • raizhel profile image

      Ruby S. 

      6 years ago

      Both human and animals benefits with each other. However, most people didn't see it.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Congratulation for the HOTD.

      Interesting hub. Animals are my life I have worked with them on our farm all my life, they aren't dumb they understand very well what's going on and what you require from them. Love them and they will return it back to you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      The connection that I have with not just my animals but others that I meet enriches me, as I hope that it does them. I don't just talk with them, I commune with them. Weird perhaps, but true. I enjoyed the hub.

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Pet therapy is being used very successfully with our returning veterans that have PTSD. I've seen this work up close and personal when we bring our dog to my father's nursing home. All the patients just want to love on Joey and he returns the favor with wet sloppy kisses. I'm an animal lover and if I could would have a houseful of pets.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Congrats on this well deserving HOTD! I grew up on a farm, and learned to love all animals at an early age.

      I have a very close bond with my Miniature Schnauzer, Baby. She knows what I am thinking, and has an instinct for my emotions that goes beyond understanding.

      Voted UP, etc.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm always happy when good writers are recognized with a HOTD...congratulations.

    • My Bell profile image

      Marcelle Bell 

      6 years ago

      This is such a good and important article. I have chosen to eat vegetarian because I do not like the way in which most, not all, farm animals are treated. Their welfare matters to me. I do respect farmers, however, that put the animal's welfare first and raise the animals appropriately with compassion before slaughter, unlike the factory farms where most of our meat comes from that have a complete disregard for the animal. I think your research is great. Congratulations on a deserved HOTD!

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      Barbara Purvis Hunter 

      6 years ago from Florida


      I am happy to know there are so many animal lovers. Since I was born on a farm I shared my life with my pets. From my pet pig, calf, rabbits, squirrels, birds, parrot, wild animals, birds ,cats and dogs through my life--- to my now pets; Sweetie Angel my Pom and Keekee my cat.

      My pets are my life and I have written about and protected other animals in my lifetime. to even having people fired who mistreated them.

      So I give you a big "Thank You" because for people like you our planet is shared with love of our pets, and people who love and respect them.

      Now, I will drink my morning coffee and be silent for a while. I am happy that your hub was noticed by HubPages.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • profile image 

      6 years ago

      I Love this hub! And I would love the puppy in the picture! Well done.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes, this is an interesting article as many have stated. Didn't know myself there was a name, Anthrozoology, for the study relationship between humans and animals. As humans, I hope we continue to strengthen this relationship. It is more our responsibility.

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 

      6 years ago from USA

      Very good hub! You are right about the paradoxical relationship between humans and animals and how we are very selective about which animals we choose to share our love with. Pet therapy has a huge role in treating not just children, but also adults with a variety of mental disorders.

      Thank you for posting this informative article. I shall certainly share it.

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      6 years ago

      As long as no one tries to stop me from eating tasty animals I don't mind the cute cuddly ones.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What an interesting hub! I knew there was research into human and animal relationships but I had no idea it was called Anthrozoology. Animals are such a big part of our lives in many ways and can be so beneficial to us humans. Great hub, thank you for sharing!

    • mySuccess8 profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for explaining the field of anthrozoology or the complex study of human-animal interactions. We have read, in some parts of the world, about the meat industry’s rampant abuse of animals, deplorable animal living conditions and outbreaks of animal diseases. We all look forward to a day when these conditions will be distant or nonexistent. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Congratulations on a well deserved HOTD! Very interesting article. I love all animals and only wish I could have more than the 2 dogs that I do have.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi fpherj48, I am glad you enjoyed my hub. Thanks so much for your comments and for pinning and tweeting. Animals can do amazing things for us people.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Carson City

      This is wonderful and it's obvious you included some seriously factual info here, making it both entertaining and educational. I do love my animals...I can't imagine not having my little furry buddies around to love and keep me company.

      Thanks for this enjoyable read....Up+++pinned & tweeted

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi KM I am glad you enjoyed this hub. It seems like there is a name for everything. I hope this information helped make you smarter than the average bear.

    • KMSplumeau profile image

      Kay Plumeau 

      6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Lovely article! I never knew that there was an official field of study regarding the bond between humans and animals. Thanks for the information!

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Time, I am very glad you took your time and energy to comment. I enjoyed reading what you said and I can see your passion about animals in your words. The animal human bond is a very important connection, one we may not totally understand, but one we definitely need.

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Alicia,

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you enjoyed this article.

    • tlmcgaa70 profile image


      6 years ago from south dakota, usa

      great hub. i also did not know what term they used for it, though i was pretty sure there was one. i have spent the last twelve or so years rescuing cats...and dogs. when i first started i also had rabbits and poultry, and at one point goats and horses as well, though i no longer have anything but cats and dogs (and two parakeets) as my health does not allow anything else. when i first started, looking back now, i can see how ignorant i was of, well, of anthrozoology. i began rescuing because i could not stand seeing animals suffer. but, one cannot rescue a large number of animals, and care for them, without also learning not only more about them, but about ourselves and about the interaction between animal and human. my relationship with the animals i rescue has grown much deeper as i learn more. i often communicate (or try to) using their own language. knowing more about them as i do, i no longer attribute human emotions to their behaviour. this is not to say animals do not feel the same range of emotions we do, because that would be a lie. animals very much DO feel the same range as we do. what it does mean, is, for example, you come home to find your cat destroyed a plant or your dog the trash, and you assign the look they give you as a guilty look. this would not be accurate, because neither cats nor dogs have the word guilt(y) in their language or vocabulary. they do know when they have done something that displeases their human, and this is because they can sense your emotions long before you are even aware that you feel it. and THAT is what they are responding to. the look and behaviour that we attribute to guilt is nothing more than them attempting to appease your displeasure with them. they may not even realize or connect just what you are displeased about. i have learned by watching the animals interact with each other, and realizing that, while animals are incredibly intelligent and capable of very deep emotions, it is wrong to judge them by the same standards we judge humans. for instance, people believe animals are just dumb beasts. they believe this because animals cannot speak our language nor are they tech savvy and other such nonsense. nonsense because if you judge a dogs intelligence by the other canines out there, you can see that that particular dog is either more or less intelligent than other canines. it is unfair to judge the intelligence of any animal by that of humans. besides, when you think about it...animals have one up on humans...they can learn what our words mean, but we have yet to learn what their vocalizations mean. we can only guess. i better stop here, and i apologize for such a long response...i have never learned the art of "making a long story short"....

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting and very thought provoking hub. Thank you for creating it!

    • toknowinfo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      That's the way to do it Bill, bond with plenty of animals.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      How very interesting. I didn't know there was a name for it, but now I do, and the article was fascinating. We have two dogs, a kitten, twenty quail, two rabbits and six chickens...lots of bonding going on daily. :)


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