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The Other End of the Leash: An Experimental Test to Analyze How Owners Interact with Their Pet Dogs

By Giulia Cimarelli, Borbála Turcsán, Friederike Range, Zsófia Virányi

Category Journal Articles

It has been suggested that the way in which owners interact with their dogs can largely vary and influence the dog-owner bond, but very few objective studies, so far, have addressed how the owner interacts with the dog. The goal of the present study was to record dog owners' interaction styles by means of objective observation and coding. The experiment included eight standardized situations in which owners of pet dogs were asked to perform specific tasks including both positive (i.e. playing, teaching a new task, showing a preference towards an object in a food searching task, greeting after separation) and potentially distressing tasks (i.e. physical restriction during DNA sampling, putting a T-shirt onto the dog, giving basic obedience commands while the dog was distracted). The video recordings were coded off-line using a specifically designed coding scheme including scores for communication, social support, warmth, enthusiasm, and play style, as well as frequency of behaviors like petting, praising, commands, and attention sounds. Exploratory Factor Analysis of the 20 variables measured revealed 3 factors, labeled as Owner Warmth, Owner Social Support, and Owner Control, which can be viewed as analogues to parenting style dimensions. The experimental procedure introduced here represents the first standardized measure of interaction styles of dog owners. The methodology presented here is a useful tool to investigate individual variation in the interaction style of pet dog owners that can be used to explain differences in the dog-human relationship, dogs' behavioral outcomes, and dogs stress coping strategies, all crucial elements both from a theoretical and applied point of view.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Publication Title Journal of Visualized Experiments
Volume 128
Pages 11
DOI 10.3791/56233
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Dogs
  3. Mammals
  4. open access
  5. Pet ownership
  6. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access