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Attachment security in companion dogs: adaptation of Ainsworth's strange situation and classification procedures to dogs and their human caregivers

By J. Solomon, A. Beetz, I. Schoberl, N. Gee, K. Kotrschal

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Abstract

This exploratory study describes the development of a classification system for dogs' attachment security to caregivers that adheres closely to Ainsworth's seminal methodology. Fifty-nine adult dogs and caregivers participated in a mildly threatening laboratory encounter with a stranger (TS) and the Strange Situation (SSP). Dog and attachment experts adapted Ainsworth's classification system for the behavioral repertoire of the dog. Four potentially comparable patterns of attachment were identified. The proportions of secure and insecure classifications (61% and 39%) were similar to those found in human toddlers. Caregivers' sensitivity to their dogs during the TS procedure significantly differentiated dogs with secure vs. insecure classifications Lower scores on the Active/excited personality scale on the Monash Canine Personality Questionnaire-Revised (MCPQ-R) also were related to secure classification. This system now makes it possible to compare directly the effects of human and dog attachment patterns on the health and emotional well-being of humans and dogs.

Publication Title Attach Hum Dev
Volume 21
Issue 4
Pages 389-417
ISBN/ISSN 1461-6734
DOI 10.1080/14616734.2018.1517812
Language eng
Notes 1469-2988Solomon, JBeetz, ASchoberl, IGee, NOrcid: 0000-0003-2890-9884Kotrschal, KJournal ArticleResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tEnglandAttach Hum Dev. 2019 Aug;21(4):389-417. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2018.1517812. Epub 2018 Sep 24.
Author Address a Department of Public Health and Primary Care , University of Cambridge , Cambridge , UK.b Institute of Parenting , Adelphi University , Garden City , NY , USA.c Department of Behavioral Biology, Konrad Lorenz Research Station , University of Vienna , Vienna , Austria.d Department of Special Education, Institut fur Sonderpadagogische Entwicklungsforderung und Rehabilitation , University of Rostock , Rostock , Germany.e College of Professional and Continuing Education , WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition , Leicestershire , UK.
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Tags
  1. Adults
  2. Animal physiology
  3. Animals
  4. Attachment
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Bonds
  7. Dogs
  8. Females
  9. Humans
  10. Males
  11. Middle Aged Adults
  12. Object attachment
  13. sensitivity
  14. surveys
  15. temperament