SAN FRANCISCO, CA (CBS Sacramento) – According to a recent study published in PLOS ONE, the relationships between an owner and their dog is similar to a parent and their baby.
The study notes that the similarity is shown by bonding. Infants have a “secure base” in their parents. The study tested the confidence levels of dogs and found that same “secure base effect” is found in owner-dog bonding.
The study was conducted by Lisa Horn and colleagues at Vetmeduni’s Messerli Research Institute in Vienna, Austria.
They examined the dog’s reactions under three different conditions; “absent owner,” “silent owner,” and “encouraging owner.” In each situation, the dog earned a food reward.
The dogs seemed to work less for the reward when their owners were not there.
In another situation, the owner was replaced by a stranger. In this experiment, the dog was less inclined to interact with the stranger.
“One of the things that really surprised us is, that adult dogs behave towards their caregivers like human children do,” Horn said in a press release. “It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behavior evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons.”
A similar study was conducted two years ago, where scientists determined that dogs learned good behavior from their owner’s facial cues.