Women are far more likely to talk to their dog than their partner when they are feeling jealous, according to the preliminary results of a new study.
Our furry friends also get an earful when females are feeling apathetic, although emotions of anger and fear were directed to partners.
Researchers are now looking to widen the study to male participants, to see what feelings drive the way they speak to their dog.
The survey has been designed by a student from the University of Lincoln, UK, with the aim of assessing 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.
“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. Research indicates that men only really confide in someone when they want a solution to a problem. Men talk in a hierarchy state and are always trying to gain the upper hand. Therefore, it may be they are willing to talk to dogs because they won’t get judged.”
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: “It’s my belief that by determining whether or not people are more or less willing to talk to their dog about certain feelings (particularly negative feelings) there is the potential that dogs could become a recognised tool for therapists to encourage patients to gets things off their chest. If possible I would like to expand this research even further to assess people’s willingness to confide in a dog that isn’t their own, such as a therapy dog, versus a figure such as a therapist.”
If you would like to take part in the study, are 18 years of age or over, 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.