Why Do Women And Dogs Share Such A Tight Bond?


Last Updated: September 14, 2023 | 8 min read | 2 Comments

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pregnant woman with dog on belly sitting on the sofa

Women and dogs share a very tight bond. This is not news to husbands or boyfriends who are banished to the sofa because the dog has sprawled on his side of the bed while he was brushing his teeth. It was not always this way. A couple of hundred years ago, when prairie skirts were not just a fleeting fashion trend, dogs rose before dawn and trotted off with the man to hunt, herd, or do draft work all day. The dog would return home on tired legs to sleep and eat in the barn or, if he was really lucky, grab a snooze near the fire. In more modern times, dogs are revered members of the family, forming close bonds with us.

Today’s pampered pets spend most of their time as companions rather than working pups. Dogs act as exercise motivators, stress relievers, non-judgmental listeners, and support systems. Women, in particular, form close connections with their fur babies. Let’s look a little further into the special relationship between women and dogs.

Human And Dog Bonds

The dog and human bond is a special one. For many people, dogs offer more than simple companionship. They are truly family members, bonding with both women and men. Women and dogs often bond closely, naturally, partly due to women frequently carrying the caretaker role for the family. Canines learn quickly where the food comes from and will learn to go to that person when they need attention or care. But the bond they have with women goes beyond simple caretaking. Dogs support women emotionally, offer protection, and have a caring instinct that kicks on in times of distress or need.

There is a wide misconception that dogs prefer women over men or that they bond with women simply due to the caretaking role. Canines bond with people they feel safe with and who exhibit behaviors that make them feel comfortable. Some of it goes back to early socialization and experiences. A dog that has been primarily cared for by women may feel more comfortable with females.

Do Women Bond With Male And Female Dogs?

Yes, women bond with both male and female dogs. The bond is more about the specific animal and human, not about the gender of either. A dog who has experienced pain, neglect, or mistreatment will often fear the gender of the person responsible.

Do Dogs Prefer Women To Men Caretakers?

There is no way to truly tell this, as all animals are different. In many cases, dogs bond with their primary caretaker, children, or people who shower them with attention. Mainly, dogs are attracted to a type of behavior rather than a specific gender. They like calm, gentle movements, soft vices, and people who do not make them feel afraid or intimidated. Women and children tend to fit that description more than men. That does not mean, though, that dogs prefer one to the other. They can form a special relationship with any caring owner that treats them well.

Dogs May Prefer Women’s Voices

Research has been done in this area, with some very interesting results. A recent study by Hungarian researchers at the Department of Ethology, Eötvös Loránd University, the Research Centre for Natural Sciences, and the Eötvös Loránd Research Network used MRI technology to learn more about how dogs process human dog-directed speech. They tested it with men’s and women’s voices. Dogs responded more to dog-directed speech and speech directed at children than adult-to-adult-directed speech.

The dogs were more sensitive to dog and infant-directed speech when the speaker was a woman. Responses were affected by pitch variation. In infants, a preference for a female and higher-pitched speech is attributed to intrauterine exposure to women’s voices as well as ancient responsiveness. In dogs, this cannot explain the preference for the female voice. Researchers conclude that dogs have a higher sensitivity to dog-directed speech from women and attribute it to the exaggerated prosody (patterns and rhythms) typical in female speech.

Dogs Offer Women Protection

Dogs can be very beneficial to women in helping them feel safe. We live in a changing world where women can take on any challenge they choose. However, there is still a risk of feeling unsafe when doing things alone. Dogs can help bridge that gap and give women the sense of protection they need. For example, hiking, biking, walking, camping, and even living alone are all situations in which women may feel unsure or unsafe. A protective dog helps keep unwanted people away so a woman can feel safe when alone.

Dogs offer protection to women in the following ways:

  1. Protection at home by watching for threats and strangers
  2. Deterrent with physical appearance
  3. Protection in public spaces
  4. Active protection and alarm when in a dangerous situation
  5. Dogs will wake you to fire, intruders, or other threats in the night
  6. Canines sense danger long before humans are aware of it
  7. Dogs do not fear for themselves when protecting their owners

Breeds like American Pitbull Terriers, Belgian Malinois, Boxers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bullmastiffs, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Rottweilers, Labrador Retrievers, and Siberian huskies are good choices of protective dogs for women. Of course, any breed of dog can be a perfect companion and watchdog, depending on the individual situation.

Health And Emotional Benefits Of Dogs

Having pets has proven emotional benefits for humans. Having a dog can help an owner feel less lonely, feel supported, provide companionship, improve our mood, and even boost physical health. Dogs provide company for people who spend a lot of time alone, need emotional support, or are older and need more focus. People who own pets are less likely to suffer from depression, often have lower blood pressure in stressful circumstances, and are more physically active.

Research has shown that people who own pets often have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people who do not own pets. Patients recovering from heart attacks who have pets often survive longer than those who do not. Interacting with a pet elevates levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, contributing to relaxation and a better mood. Research has shown benefits to Alzheimer’s patients, helping ease aggression, anxiety, and stress.

Having a pet can help promote exercise and physical health, reduce anxiety, help with depression, and add focus, structure, and routine to your life. Pets offer stress relief and emotional support through companionship. Dogs are often very sensitive to emotional changes in their owners. Many will come and cuddle when a person is upset, crying, or seems down. Dogs are often highly sensitive to hormonal changes in women, especially when a woman becomes pregnant.

The Mom And Dog Dynamic – A Psychological Study

The bond between mothers and dogs gets support from the results of an Italian study from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Milan. This research suggests the behaviors of mothers toward human infants have been co-opted for interacting with other social partners, namely, the dog. Part of this wonderful connection occurs because dogs are great observers of our behavior and of the mother/child dynamic in particular. When a dog acts kindly toward the child, he receives praise for this effort. This motivates dogs to stay close to the child and insert themselves into parenting duties.

Some mothers report their dogs acting as baby monitors, poking them with purpose when the baby wakes from a nap. Others describe their dogs propping up toddlers, tiny hands grasping fur and skin as they learn to walk. The dog then gets rewards of more praise, more attention, and more treats.

Single, married, or post-break-up, women are bonding with their dogs like never before. Sarah Rodgers of Vero Beach, Florida, was married two years ago and is now mother to one-year-old son Jax. Her dog, Porter, a leggy Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, was five years old when Jax was born. Sarah’s concerns were not about her newbie parenting skills or her dog’s relationship with the baby. She worried instead about how Porter felt about all the changes. “I did everything with Porter before we had the baby,” Sarah says. “Now he gets the shorter end of the stick, so I’m always looking to give the dog some special time.”

Indeed, Porter has blossomed since the baby came and assumes a protective role when husband Derek is away on business. “When my husband is gone, Porter knows he cannot sleep up on our bed. If I am even slightly anxious or sad, he is right there wedging his nose under my arm.” Sarah’s dog may be exceptionally intuitive. During the last days of her pregnancy, he stuck to her like glue. “Three days before I went into labor, Porter would follow me with a worried expression. When I sat down, he would press himself against me, even placing his head on my belly.” Only the lack of opposable thumbs kept Porter from donning a smock in the delivery room and passing out cigars.

Personal Experience: Women And Dogs

Kimberly pregnant belly with sally dog laying on her

“When I was pregnant, I noticed a change in my dog’s behavior. She became my shadow and started following me around everywhere. I would stumble over her at times because if I took a step back without looking, she was always there. On our walks, just the two of us, she got very vocal towards any person or dog we passed.

She’s a creature of habit, and if something is out of the norm, then she struggles with it. Immediately following the birth of both of my children, she went through a lot of anxiety and would get sick. The change in household schedule was hard on her.

She became very protective of us all as a family. I noticed her motherly nature take over as she looked over my children. I always thought she had that “new mom glow” as we strutted around the neighborhood with our new baby as she proudly trotted along with us. But don’t let that make you think she’s unaware of her surroundings. If someone steps foot in our yard while the kids are playing, she is on high alert.

Over the years, I’ve noticed the way she interacts with me versus my husband. She is more likely to listen to me the first time I say something. If she is pulling on our walks, I’m sometimes able to stop the behavior by speaking to her. Meanwhile, my husband typically must guide her back with the leash.

She’s also much more dominant with her behavior toward him. For example, she’s more likely to paw at him and invade his space than she is with me. This could be taken one of two ways. The first is that she feels more “alpha” with my husband than me. The second is that she is simply pushier with her presence toward him than me.”

Kimberly Alt, Canine Journal

As protectors and companions, dogs are reliable, going far beyond the call of duty to keep their pack safe.

Daisy dog sitting in grass with two expressions happy and agressive

“My dog Daisy, a Pitbull Labrador Retriever mix, is a rescue dog. She was found with a litter of puppies roaming the streets at about 8 weeks old. We adopted her without knowing much of her history. Daisy bonded quickly with my sons, husband, daughter, and me. However, from a very young age, and even now at 11 years old, she does not like unknown men. Most of the time, she is very sweet and docile, and we have never had an issue with her biting or attacking anyone, but she does bark loudly and aggressively. I prefer taking her to female vets simply because she is more comfortable with them.

While her barking and protectiveness can, at times, be a lot to handle, it has a positive side. I live in a big city, and as with any place, unfortunate and scary things happen. I can take Daisy and walk, hike, or bike just about anywhere I want by myself, as can my daughter. People often make room for us to walk by due to Daisy’s stocky appearance. Her presence when I am home alone makes me feel far safer than any other form of protection. I have had a larger dog for over 20 years and have always felt safer with them around.

I have, in fact, had workmen be afraid to enter my house because of her barking and have had to put her in a separate room so they could work. One man told me he had a fear of dogs, and she looked scary. While I felt bad, in a way, I was also secure in knowing that just having her with me keeps me safe, as she is a big deterrent to anyone who should not be around.”

Danielle DeGroot, Canine Journal

Ways To Bond With Your Dog

Fostering a healthy dog human bond takes work. Dogs depend on owners for food, exercise, and care. We depend on them for companionship and emotional support. Bonding takes time, and owners must have patience. Training your dog, working on socialization, playing with doggie toys together, and going for walks are some ways. try playing brain games, teaching your dog agility tricks, and just spending time together. Do not forget to offer your pup healthy food, provide veterinary care, and keep your home safe, clean, and secure.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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