vHive logo white

What is the Human Animal Bond?

Defining the human animal bond

The human animal bond is the connection between humans and companion animals. It is a close relationship that, in some cases, can go back to our earliest experiences of being cared for by an animal, be it a cat or a dog. The human animal bond is distinct from other connections with nature because it is about people who care for pets rather than just as objects in their lives. The importance of this relationship cannot be underestimated in our modern world where we tend to separate ourselves from one another through technology and into isolation within larger communities.

The history of the human animal bond

There is no doubt that pets have played a major role in society and have been an integral part of the human-animal bond. Pets are also an excellent means of relieving stress and helping individuals cope with difficult times. In ancient times pets were not commonplace, nor did they serve a similar function as they do now. In fact, before the development of the domesticated animal, humans were not interacting much with the animal kingdom at all. The human-animal bond began to take shape around 8,000 years ago when our ancestors began to keep animals primarily for hunting and protection purposes. The 1950s saw a cultural shift where pet ownership became more mainstream and common in households across America. This is a trend that has continued to grow over time with pet ownership becoming increasingly popular across various demographics, including millennials who spend on average $33 billion on their pets every year.

Pet ownership is also growing internationally which has led to increased international trade due to demand for goods related to companion animals. Furthermore, a study conducted by GlobalData found that nearly 55 million households globally have at least one dog or cat as their companion animal which means that there is ample opportunity for pet businesses to meet consumer needs while also providing a service that helps the environment by reducing global warming emissions caused by pets (GlobalData). 

cat being gently petted on the head

The benefits of the human animal bond

The human animal bond has significant benefits for humans. Companion animals help reduce the levels of stress and anxiety in human life, as such they are a source of comfort, companionship, love, and belonging. They also have the power to improve health conditions such as low moods and cardiovascular disease. The human animal bond is beneficial because it strengthens our relationships with other animals that are not pets, and one study found that pet owners were less likely to be hostile towards plants than those who did not have pets. This indicates that pet ownership changes one’s relationship with nature in a positive way.

The science behind the human animal bond

The human-animal bond has been studied for years and a variety of relationships have been found. One study found that animals are more than just pets to adolescents; they are crucial for the adolescent’s well-being. These findings suggest, whether intentionally or not, children with pets might be better able to develop social skills, feel less lonely, and have healthier psychological and emotional development.

Another study discovered that the human animal bond has three stages: attachment, friendship, and love. The first stage is where a child becomes attached to an animal. During this time in life, the child views the pet as a source of comfort and protection while learning how to interact with other people as they develop. Once the child reaches this stage of attachment, they may become the best friend of the animal which then leads into developing love for each other at a later age. It is important that children learn to interact positively with animals before they begin to develop these emotions because it can help them during critical stages in their development such as during childhood or adolescence when they need support from others who understand them and share similar experiences.

dog being stroked under the chin after a swim

How to foster a strong human animal bond

Pet owners should allow their pet to interact with them in appropriate ways, as your pets are individuals who have needs and desires, and they should be allowed to express these. This can be done by spending time with your pet as well as giving them adequate exercise, playtime, socialisation, and more. Pets also benefit from being able to experience different environments. There is a hidden benefit for the pet in this process because it allows them to develop skills such as problem-solving that can help them later on in life.


The human animal bond is a type of social bond that humans have with animals. It is characterized by emotional attachment and mutual care and support. The human animal bond is an important concept for all species, and studies show that this bond can help animals live longer, healthier and happier lives. Furthermore, this idea has been used to teach about the importance of caretaking, social bonds and animal welfare. Finally, the human animal bond can be strengthened through interaction with animals, and strengthened through taking steps to reduce human-animal conflict.

More News & Events

Presentation by our DataHub Director Kevin Wells at the 2024 European Veterinary Oncology Conference.
A dog's personality and temperament is often a distinct factor in the creation of human-animal relationships. Favourable personality...
29 Feb 2024
Nam et al., (2024) have published their results from the Dog Ageing Project...