According to a recent study carried out by the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, dogs are like children when around their owners.
From the report, that has been published in PLOS ONE, it has been discovered that dogs and children appear to share the “secure base effect”.
This effect is normally used to describe how infants use their parents as a secure base when they’re interacting with their surroundings; however, it would seem that dogs also use this approach.
Lisa Horn, from the Vetmeduni’s Messerli Research Institute, decided to closely investigate the dog-owner dynamics to see whether dogs are like children.
To do this they examined canine behavior under three different conditions, known as the “absent owner,” “silent owner” and “encouraging owner.”
In addition to these differences, the dogs were also given the chance to earn food rewards if they manipulated interactive dog toys scattered around the room.
From this experiment, Horn discovered that the dogs were less likely to work for the treat if their owner wasn’t there.
However, if the owner was presented and actively tried to encourage their dog to work for the food rewards, there seemed to be little influence in their pets motivation levels.
Following on from this initial experiment, Horn and her colleagues recreated the process, but replaced the owner with an unfamiliar person.
The scientists observed that the dogs hardly interacted with the strangers; furthermore, the dogs didn’t seem any more inclined to work for a food reward whether the stranger was present or not.
From all these different interacts and experiments, Horn and her colleagues concluded that the dogs were more likely to behave in a confident manner if their owner was present.
All the canines that displayed this closeness and loyalty with their owners seem to go towards explaining how our pets can react in such a way that they save us from harming ourselves.
Furthermore, when you hear about dogs that are so dedicated they guard their deceased owner’s grave, you begin to realize just how close dogs are to their owners.
This sense of reliance on another to gain confidence would appear to be very similar to how infants are when they’re around or absent from their parents.
Therefore, the study into whether dogs are like children, seems to have given evidence that supports similarities between parent and owner behaviors. However, more studies will needed to see just how valid this new discovery is.
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