Communication, dog ownership, pets, romantic relationships, conflict, relational maintenance, self expansion model
Pets are a common aspect of life for many Americans. In 2012, 36.5% of American household owned dogs and 30.4% owned cats (American Veterinary Medical Foundation, 2012). The purpose on this study was to explore the influence of dog ownership on romantic relationships. Specifically, this thesis investigates how dog ownership acts as a catalyst of relational maintenance and conflict behavior in interactions about the couple's dog. No prior research has been conducted on the role dogs' play in enacting relational maintenance or conflict in romantic relationships, so it is unclear if there is an influence to the these behaviors. This study asks how dog ownership might act as a centripetal force pulling the relationship together (e.g. relational maintenance) and/or as a centrifugal force pushing the partners apart (e.g. conflict). A total of 379 participants were recruited through social media to complete a short online survey. The survey asked questions on the romantic relationship, dog ownership, conflict regarding the dog, relational maintenance activities regarding the dog, and demographics. The majority of participants reported engaging in 8 of the 24 relational maintenance activities "often" or "always" and 3 of the 30 conflict topics occurred at least one or more times. Satisfaction with the romantic relationship associated positively with partial weak and negligible correlations to the relational maintenance activities and one negligible association with a conflict topic. A thematic analysis provides details on the short answers participants provided. The results shows that dogs do provide couples opportunities for relational maintenance but also are the source of conflict. This research is the start to understanding the role of dog ownership within romantic relationship. While each couple and dog may produce different influences on the relationship, this study is the start for the investigation and provides guidance for future research.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Communication; Interpersonal Communication Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Elrick, Ashley, "Dog Ownership as a Catalyst of Conflict and Relationship Maintenance in Romantic Relationships" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4625.