Would people rather reveal their feelings to their dog than their partners? This is the question being asked by a new research study.

A survey designed by a student from the University of Lincoln, UK, aims to assess dog owners’ tendencies to reveal certain thoughts, feelings and emotions to their dog versus their long-term partner.

Third year undergraduate Aislinn Evans-Wilday, who is carrying out the research mentored by Professor Daniel Mills within the School of Life Sciences, said: “The purpose of the study is to find out how close we are with our dogs and characterise the form of relationship we have with them. There may be differences between the sexes, but we really don’t know. Our initial response indicates we have more replies from women, so we really need more male responders to identify if this is or is not the case.

“It is well known that men and women tend to deal with stress in very different ways. Women typically talk more openly about all issues with friends whereas men tend to talk about positive emotions with partners, but keep negative problems bottled up. I have got two dogs myself and talk to them all of the time. It will be nice to see if other people do the same!”

The wider aim of the research is to look at how dogs could potentially be used to reach out to people in therapy sessions, similar to the benefits dogs can bring to partially sighted, blind and deaf people.

Aislinn added: “Previous research has shown that older people who live alone and own a dog have less human networks, but are not lonely. Dogs may provide some form of substitute for human company but it will be interesting to see in what ways they do this.”

If you would like to take part in the study, are currently married, in a civil-partnership or are in a stable, long-term relationship and own at least one dog, please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/self-disclosurewithdogs

Both your human relationship and dog-ownership should have lasted at least six months.

The study ends on 31st December 2013 with the final results to be collated in April 2014.