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TitleHuman-dog bond: personality and attachment
AuthorLyckberg, Linnéa Klara Maria
ContributorsWeiss, Alexander; Jarvis, Susan; Rhen, Therese
Subject(s)attachment; personality; dog behaviour; human-animal interactions; emotional intelligence; Ainsworth's Strange Situation Test
AbstractTo assess variables associated with a mutual human-dog bond, a new scale was developed to measure dog owner’s relationship satisfaction and Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Test (SST) was used to measure the attachment of 65 dogs to their owners. The owner’s personality was measured using the Mini International Personality Item Pool and the dog’s personality was measured using the Monash Canine Personality Questionnaire (MCPQ-R). Owners were asked to report the number of behaviour problems displayed by their dogs and how frequently they interacted with their dogs. Out of the dog and owner traits, only owner neuroticism was significant for how bonded the owners were to their dogs. The dogs’ behaviour during the SST provides evidence for the existence of groups of dogs who vary in their attachment to their owner. One group was highly sociable and showed similar behaviours to children with secure attachment. A second group had low sociability and showed similar behaviours to children with insecure (ambivalent) attachment. A third group seemed to have developed a bond to the owner, which is specific to dogs. These dogs were highly sociable, independent and seemed to be flexible in who they could gain safety and support from. Owners who were less conscientious had dogs who showed signs of low sociability and insecure attachment during the SST, and rated their dogs as lower in extraversion and higher in motivation. Dogs who showed signs of high sociability and independence during the experiment had been rated as more extraverted, less amicable and less neurotic than those dogs who showed signs of high sociability and secure attachment. The owners of dogs in the sociability/independent group reported their dogs as having a larger number of behaviour problems than owners of the high sociability/secure dogs. Owners of dogs in the low sociability/insecure group reported having the strongest bond to their dogs. These findings suggest that the owner’s experience of the bond does not reflects the dog’s attachment.
TypeThesis or Dissertation; Doctoral; PhD Doctor of Philosophy
PublisherThe University of Edinburgh