Simple Summary The attachment bond that dogs form towards their owners shares similar features with the bond children form towards their caregivers. Insecurely attached children struggle to find support from their caregivers and therefore to regulate their own emotional response in times of distress. We aimed to investigate whether the quality of dog attachment to the owner may affect their physiological response to stress. We selected ten insecure and ten secure dogs from a sample of individuals who underwent a Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) to assess their attachment pattern towards the owner. The SSP is specifically designed to progressively generate stress. We collected saliva samples before and after the test to measure cortisol concentrations, as an indicator of acute stress, as well as a hair sample to assess chronic stress. We also measured blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and rectal temperature after the completion of the test. The results showed that salivary cortisol concentrations were higher in insecure dogs, particularly after the test. Heart rate also tended to be higher in insecure dogs. No difference in hair cortisol levels were found between secure and insecure dogs. Dogs' physiological response to acute stress may be affected by the quality of the attachment to the owners. The quality of the attachment bond towards the caregiver may affect the dog's physiological responses to stressful stimuli. This study aimed to measure chronic and acute physiological parameters of stress in ten securely and ten insecurely attached dogs. The twenty experimental subjects were selected from a sample of dogs that participated with their owners in the Strange Situation Procedure. Saliva samples were collected before (T0) and after (T1) the test. Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and rectal temperature were measured after the test, only. At this time, a hair sample was also collected. RM ANOVA was used to analyse cortisol concentrations between secure and insecure dogs at T0 and T1. Mann-Whitney U test or T test were used for other physiological parameters. Insecure dogs had significant higher salivary cortisol concentrations than secure dogs at T1 (p = 0.024), but only a non-significant trend towards higher cortisol concentrations at T0 (p = 0.099). Post-test heart rate also tended to be higher in insecure compared to secure dogs (p = 0.077). No significant differences in hair cortisol concentration were found. The quality of attachment may affect the dog's physiological response to acute stress, at least when related to separation from the caregiver. The effect of attachment on chronic stress requires further investigation.

Physiological Indicators of Acute and Chronic Stress in Securely and Insecurely Attached Dogs Undergoing a Strange Situation Procedure (SSP): Preliminary Results

Riggio, Giacomo
Primo
;
Borrelli, Carmen
Secondo
;
Gazzano, Angelo;Mariti, Chiara
Ultimo
2022-01-01

Abstract

Simple Summary The attachment bond that dogs form towards their owners shares similar features with the bond children form towards their caregivers. Insecurely attached children struggle to find support from their caregivers and therefore to regulate their own emotional response in times of distress. We aimed to investigate whether the quality of dog attachment to the owner may affect their physiological response to stress. We selected ten insecure and ten secure dogs from a sample of individuals who underwent a Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) to assess their attachment pattern towards the owner. The SSP is specifically designed to progressively generate stress. We collected saliva samples before and after the test to measure cortisol concentrations, as an indicator of acute stress, as well as a hair sample to assess chronic stress. We also measured blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and rectal temperature after the completion of the test. The results showed that salivary cortisol concentrations were higher in insecure dogs, particularly after the test. Heart rate also tended to be higher in insecure dogs. No difference in hair cortisol levels were found between secure and insecure dogs. Dogs' physiological response to acute stress may be affected by the quality of the attachment to the owners. The quality of the attachment bond towards the caregiver may affect the dog's physiological responses to stressful stimuli. This study aimed to measure chronic and acute physiological parameters of stress in ten securely and ten insecurely attached dogs. The twenty experimental subjects were selected from a sample of dogs that participated with their owners in the Strange Situation Procedure. Saliva samples were collected before (T0) and after (T1) the test. Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and rectal temperature were measured after the test, only. At this time, a hair sample was also collected. RM ANOVA was used to analyse cortisol concentrations between secure and insecure dogs at T0 and T1. Mann-Whitney U test or T test were used for other physiological parameters. Insecure dogs had significant higher salivary cortisol concentrations than secure dogs at T1 (p = 0.024), but only a non-significant trend towards higher cortisol concentrations at T0 (p = 0.099). Post-test heart rate also tended to be higher in insecure compared to secure dogs (p = 0.077). No significant differences in hair cortisol concentration were found. The quality of attachment may affect the dog's physiological response to acute stress, at least when related to separation from the caregiver. The effect of attachment on chronic stress requires further investigation.
2022
Riggio, Giacomo; Borrelli, Carmen; Campera, Marco; Gazzano, Angelo; Mariti, Chiara
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1156580
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