This ‘pet parenting style’ seems to make dogs safer and more resilient: ScienceAlert

According to a new study, the way you “parent” your dog has an impact on the type of dog he will become. An owner who is highly sensitive to a dog’s behavior and needs tends to lead to a more social, secure, and intelligent dog.

Parenting styles and choices are known to influence how children develop and grow. Researchers are now discovering more about a somewhat similar relationship between owners and their pets.

The researchers recruited 48 dog owners and their pets, asking them to complete a parenting style survey before participating in three laboratory behavioral tests, assessing attachments and interactions between dogs and their humans.

“We found that pet parenting style predicts behavioral and cognitive patterns in dogs,” says animal behaviorist Monique Udell from Oregon State University.

“This is an important finding because it suggests that dog owners who take the time to understand and meet their dog’s needs are more likely to end up with safe and resilient dogs.”

Based on the initial surveys, the researchers categorized dog owners into three categories, similar to categories used in research on human parents: authoritative (high expectation, high responsiveness), authoritative (high expectation, low responsiveness), and permissive. (low expectations, high responsiveness). ).

The three behavioral tests covered attachment (how the dog reacted to its owner during close interactions), sociability (how the dog reacted when a stranger and its owner swapped places in the test room), and problem solving. problems (challenging the dog to feast on a puzzle with no interaction at all or with verbal encouragement and gestures from the owner).

Overall, dogs with authoritative owners had the highest secure attachment rate and were highly social and sensitive to social context, compared to dogs with authoritative or permissive owners. Additionally, the only dogs to solve the puzzle were from the authoritative group.

The study corresponds in some respects to Previous search in parents and children; specifically, children with authoritative parents are more likely to show secure attachment, which is thought to be due to the consistent and reliable support they receive.

“This research shows that the bond between a dog and a human caretaker can be functionally and emotionally similar to the bond between a human parent and their child,” says behavioral scientist Lauren Brubaker from Oregon State University.

The research opens up interesting new questions – why, for example, did dogs with permissive owners respond to social cues from the stranger they were with but not their owner in one of the tests?

For now, however, the study is enough to show that there is some sort of relationship between the approach we take as dog owners and how those dogs behave afterwards, even with many other factors at play.

“Further research in this area is needed, especially replications with larger sample sizes and in different populations and cultures,” the researchers write in their published article.

“However, our results suggest that in the sampled population, pre-existing quality of the dog-owner relationship served as a significant predictor of dog behavior in all three domains.”

The research has been published in animal cognition.

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