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Habbe, Johanna, 2016. Human caregiving style and its effect on the dog-human relationship. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Animal Environment and Health



Dogs have evolved alongside humans since their domestication 15 000 years ago. No other animal has lived in such close proximity to humans which makes the bond between them unique. The dog-human relationship has started to interest scientists and studies have been performed to investigate the nature of this bond. These studies suggest that the relationship resembles that of the relationship between children and their parents. Furthermore, it has been shown that dogs express attachment behaviour towards their owner and that dogs use their owner as a secure base. However, few studies have looked at how the human’s attachment style and caregiving style may affect the relationship between dogs and humans. In this study, we looked at how the human caregiving style affected the dog-human relationship when faced with different challenging situations. We applied two of the four caregiving styles described in human psychology; the secure caregiving style and the disorganised caregiving style. The dogs interacted with two test persons applying one caregiving style each for 15 days. They were then exposed to challenging situations together with these two persons to investigate which one the dog would choose to seek comfort from. The results showed that when dogs were exposed to the approach of an unfamiliar person they were more oriented towards the person with the secure caregiving style. When the dogs were left alone in a room for three minutes and then reunited with both test persons the dogs initiated more physical contact and spent more time in proximity to the person with the secure caregiving style.

These findings support the hypotheses that dogs are affected by human caregiving style and that they preferred to seek comfort from a person mimicking a secure caregiving style compared to a person mimicking a disorganised caregiving style. These findings help us get a better understanding of the characteristics of the dog human relationship and can help when matching dog and owner when rehoming dogs to ensure a better welfare for the dog.

Main title:Human caregiving style and its effect on the dog-human relationship
Authors:Habbe, Johanna
Supervisor:Rehn, Therese and Bodfäldt, Eva
Examiner:Keeling, Linda
Series:Studentarbete / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa
Volume/Sequential designation:728
Year of Publication:2016
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VK002 Ethology and Animal Welfare - Bachelor's Programme 180 HEC
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Keywords:human-dog relationship, dog behaviour, attachment style, caregiving style, anthrozoology
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Animal ecology
Deposited On:15 Jun 2018 11:50
Metadata Last Modified:25 Feb 2019 13:38

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