The bond linking domestic dogs to owners is often considered similar to the child-mother attachment bond. However, humans have a particularly strong appeal to dogs, and it is possible that dog-man relationship outdoes the dog-mother bond. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the bond linking adult dogs towards owners is similar to the bond towards their own mothers. Fourteen adult dogs (6 males and 8 females, 40.2±11.9 months old, of differing breeds) participated at the study. Dogs had been living together with the same owner and with their own mother since birth. Each dog was tested twice, at one month distance, in a modified version of the Ainsworth’s Strange Situation test where the presumed attachment figure was played once by the owner (interspecific) and once by dogs’ mother (intraspecific). The test order was inverted for half of the sample. Dogs’ behaviour was analysed continuously, and the duration of social and non social behaviours (physical contact, proximity, approach, visual orientation, social exploration, environmental exploration, locomotion, yelping, nearness to the door, behaviours against the door, stress signals such as nose licking, yawning and shaking) in the two tests was compared using the Wilcoxon test (p<0.05). The statistical analysis revealed that contact maintenance behaviours were more displayed by dogs towards the owner than towards their mother in both episodes 4 and 7, after separation and reunion with the owner or mother; whilst such difference was less evident before being separated from the presumed attachment figure. The searching response and protest at separation was instead longer in the intraspecific test than in the interspecific one in all episodes, including when dogs were in the company of the stranger, of the owner/mother and when completely alone. These findings suggest that the attachment system was more activated by the separation from the owner than from the mother. The higher protest at separation throughout the whole intraspecific test may be explained as the sum of separation from the owner (never present) combined in some episodes with separation from the mother. Therefore dogs seem to be more attached to owners than to their own mother.

ADULT DOMESTIC DOGS (CANIS FAMILIARIS) ARE MORE STRONGLY BONDED TO OWNERS THAN TO THEIR OWN MOTHERS

Chiara Mariti
Primo
;
Beatrice Carlone;Eva Ricci;Claudio Sighieri
Penultimo
;
Angelo Gazzano
Ultimo
2016

Abstract

The bond linking domestic dogs to owners is often considered similar to the child-mother attachment bond. However, humans have a particularly strong appeal to dogs, and it is possible that dog-man relationship outdoes the dog-mother bond. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the bond linking adult dogs towards owners is similar to the bond towards their own mothers. Fourteen adult dogs (6 males and 8 females, 40.2±11.9 months old, of differing breeds) participated at the study. Dogs had been living together with the same owner and with their own mother since birth. Each dog was tested twice, at one month distance, in a modified version of the Ainsworth’s Strange Situation test where the presumed attachment figure was played once by the owner (interspecific) and once by dogs’ mother (intraspecific). The test order was inverted for half of the sample. Dogs’ behaviour was analysed continuously, and the duration of social and non social behaviours (physical contact, proximity, approach, visual orientation, social exploration, environmental exploration, locomotion, yelping, nearness to the door, behaviours against the door, stress signals such as nose licking, yawning and shaking) in the two tests was compared using the Wilcoxon test (p<0.05). The statistical analysis revealed that contact maintenance behaviours were more displayed by dogs towards the owner than towards their mother in both episodes 4 and 7, after separation and reunion with the owner or mother; whilst such difference was less evident before being separated from the presumed attachment figure. The searching response and protest at separation was instead longer in the intraspecific test than in the interspecific one in all episodes, including when dogs were in the company of the stranger, of the owner/mother and when completely alone. These findings suggest that the attachment system was more activated by the separation from the owner than from the mother. The higher protest at separation throughout the whole intraspecific test may be explained as the sum of separation from the owner (never present) combined in some episodes with separation from the mother. Therefore dogs seem to be more attached to owners than to their own mother.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/914832
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