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Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, have found the relationship between pet owners and dogs to be highly similar to the deep connection between young children and their parents. "One aspect of the bond between humans and dogs is the so-called 'secure base effect.' This effect is also found in parent-child bonding: human infants use their caregivers as a secure base when it comes to interacting with the environment." In experiments, when dog owners are present, their dogs are more motivated and more likely to work for food not supplied by their owners.

What's the Big Idea?

In a follow-up experiment, scientists replaced dog owners with strangers to observe how their dogs would react. They found 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." Researchers now plan to directly compare dogs and children to further measure the degree to which dogs respond to their owners like children to their parents.

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Read it at Science Daily