Human-Dog Relationship during the First COVID-19 Lockdown in Italy

The isolation and abrupt interruption of social contacts and interpersonal affective relationships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have triggered greater fragility and uncertainty in people and this condition has also had repercussions in the human-dog relationship. The paper “Human-Dog Relationship during the First COVID-19 Lockdown in Italy” published in the prestigious international journal “Animals” is a multidisciplinary study born from the synergy between the Veterinary Physiology and Ethology group of the Federico II University of Naples, coordinated by Prof. Luigi Avallone, from the Department of Developmental and Socialization Psychology, La Sapienza of Rome, from the Sbarro Institute of Philadelphia, from the University of Siena with Prof. Antonio Giordano.

“The realization of the study,” say Francesca Ciani and Danila d’Angelo, researchers of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production of the University of Naples Federico II, “was possible thanks to the availability of over 2000 dog owners, who contributed by filling in voluntarily an online questionnaire active in the Italian territory. We asked a series of questions aimed at understanding how owners have assessed the quality of life of their dog during the restrictions and how these could affect the emotional states and well-being of the dogs.”

Andrea Chirico, researcher at the Department of Developmental and Socialization Psychology, of La Sapienza in Rome, explains that, “an adapted version of the Monash Dog-Owner Relationship Scale has been validated in Italian. The Monash scale includes three subscales relating to separate dimensions of the human-dog relationship, identified as owner-dog interaction, perceived emotional closeness and perceived costs. 

“Furthermore,” concludes Chirico, “the proposed questionnaire was validated for the first time in Italy by our research group, and can now be used for further future investigations.”

Luigi Avallone, professor of Veterinary Physiology of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production of the University of Naples Federico II, highlights that, “the data that emerged from our investigation help us to better understand the complexity of the bond that characterizes the human-dog. The dog, in fact, makes use of a reference figure to overcome complex situations and anguish. It is also true that man, through a process of emotional osmosis, derives pleasure from the presence of the pet and from the affective areas that distinguish the relationship with our animals.”

“The picture that emerges from our work is perfectly in line with the One Welfare approach,” concludes Antonio Giordano, Director and Founder of the Sbarro Institute in Philadelphia, USA, and professor of Anatomy and Pathological Histology at the University of Siena, “ which implies the existence of a two-way connection between the well-being and health of humans and non-human animals.”

About the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO)

The Sbarro Health Research Organization is a non-profit charity committed to funding excellence in basic genetic research to cure and diagnose cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and related chronic illnesses and to foster the training of young doctors in a spirit of professionalism and humanism (

To see more information about our Founder & Director Dr. Antonio Giordano visit:…/antonio-giordano-md-phd

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