Dogs as a gateway to the good life: using thematic analysis to explore the mechanisms underpinning dog ownership and human well-being

Charlie Lea, Yasmin Kirby, Jasmin Tilley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Some research has shown that spending time with dogs improves human well-being. However, findings regarding the impact of dogs on human well-being and the underpinning explanatory mechanisms have been inconsistent. There is potential to support existing theoretical mechanisms, modify existing ideas, and discover new ones by using participant’s own descriptions and beliefs regarding their relationships with their dogs. This study utilises a thematic analysis to examine semi-structured interviews of eight undergraduate students who had experienced dog ownership. Five themes were identified that suggest routes to well-being via dog ownership: the benefits of the care routine, the mood boosting effect of dogs, the facilitation of human–human bonds, the provision of unconditional love, and that any negative experiences are ultimately worth it. This study provides a valuable insight into how dog owners make sense of their relationship with their dogs, via everyday realities, contextualising this through the lens of human well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • dog-ownership
  • dogs
  • good life
  • happiness
  • well-being

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