‘Thriving Through Relationships’ as a useful adjunct to existing theoretical frameworks used in human-companion dog interaction literature

Jennifer Gravrok1, Dan Bendrups2, Tiffani Howell1, Pauleen C. Bennett1
1 Anthrozoology Research Group, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Australia
2 Research Education and Development Team, Graduate Research School, La Trobe University, Australia

The relationship formed between a human and a dog can be transformative. Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) research aims to understand why these relationships are so important. Within this field, human-dog relationships have been explained through various theoretical constructs, of which the ‘biophilia hypothesis’, ‘attachment theory’ and ‘social support’ are the most common. However, none of these constructs completely explain the benefits that human-dog relationships can provide. In this paper, a new theory, the Thriving Through Relationships (TTR) theory, is applied to human-dog relationships, in order to ascertain its capacity to further explain the benefits that dogs can provide to humans. The TTR theory proposes mechanisms for immediate and long-term indicators of thriving, which may add new insight into how human-dog relationships are beneficial. Multiple dimensions of thriving are used to explain how a supportive other could assist an individual to thrive, both in the face of adversity and during times of relative normalcy. The TTR theory may, therefore, enhance understanding of the transformative potential of human-dog relationships.
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