Both dog and owner impact the quality of their relationship

Do all dogs form the same type of attachment to their owners and what, if anything, can owners do to enhance that relationship? A new review offers some insights.

Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Sweden reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of approaches to the study of the dog-human relationship, and concluded that knowing a dog’s attachment style and an owner’s caregiving strategy can lead to more positive relationships.

The review was published in the October issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

The researchers reviewed current knowledge about the dog-human relationship using human psychology concepts to clarify terms and support suggestions about how to adapt and apply dog-owner relationship assessment methods.

Specifically, the researchers suggest focusing on the individual dog’s attachment styles rather than the “average dog,” and the owner’s caregiving strategy. For instance, focus on the balance between the dog’s separation distress and the effectiveness of the owner’s caregiving strategy in calming the dog when reunited to identify what is most successful. 

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