Dogs really are our 'babies': Canines react to us in the same way human children respond to their parents

For centuries dogs have been described as man's best friend.

But a new study suggests the bond between canines and their owners is more like that of an infant to its mother or father.

Research carried out by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, found that dogs display a characteristic called the 'secure base effect' which is more commonly associated with babies.

The theory is that children use their parents as a secure base when it comes to interacting with their environment.

Their experiments suggest that a similar bond is also found between dogs and their owners.

Researcher Lisa Horn examined dogs' reactions under three different conditions: 'absent owner', 'silent owner' and 'encouraging owner'.

The dogs could earn a food reward, by manipulating interactive dog toys. Her results showed they seemed much less keen on working for food, when their caregivers were not there than when they were.

Moreover, whether an owner encouraged the dog during the task or remained silent had little influence on the animal's level of motivation.

In a follow-up experiment, Horn and her colleagues replaced the owner with an unfamiliar person.

The scientists observed that dogs hardly interacted with the strangers and were not much more interested in trying to get the food reward than when this person was not there.

The dogs were much more motivated only when their owner was present. The researchers concluded that the owner's presence is important for the animal to behave in a confident manner.

Horn believes the study provides the first evidence for the similarity between the 'secure base effect' found in dog-owner and paternal or maternal relationships.

'One of the things that really surprised us is, that adult dogs behave towards their caregivers like human children do. It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behaviour evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons,' she said.

Responses to "Study shows dogs bond with their owners in similar way to how babies do with their parents "

  1. Morgana says:

    Its natural to me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    All the dogs I have had, when curious about something but hesitant would like back at me to tell them it was ok or to show them it would not hurt them. They are like children.

  3. RainL says:

    I guess the people who did the study never owned or knew a dog...

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