Dog-directed parenting as a candidate determinant of dog to owner attachment

K. Bouma, Ineke van Herwijnen, B. Beerda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Attachment between dog and owner should establish that the owner acts as a secure base from which the dog can freely explore and interact with the environment. Insecure attachment may cause problem behaviour and poor welfare, and is possibly prevented by appropriate dog-directed parenting. Recently, we identified three dog-directed parenting styles, which were authoritarian correction oriented (AUN), authoritative training oriented (AUT) and authoritative intrinsic value oriented (AUI). We studied how these styles associate with dog to owner attachment as measured with a Strange Situation Test (SST) protocol with different test episodes. In these episodes the dog was either alone in an unfamiliar room, with a stranger, the owner or both. Dog behaviours were grouped by principal component analysis (PCA). Online questionnaires were used to calculate owner-report based scores for parenting styles and these were related to SST dog behaviour scores, as grouped in the PCA. A preliminary analysis of 35 dog-owner dyads correlated AUT dog-directed parenting to behaviours indicative of secure attachment (N=35, r=0.38, p=0.025), which included dogs exploring more during owner presence. Insecure attachment scores were also derived from PCA, and included behaviours such as vocalisations during owner absence. These scores correlated negatively with AUN parenting (N=35, r=-0.48, p=0.004) and positively with AUI parenting (N=35, r=0.46, p=0.006). Our preliminary findings are in agreement with what is known about the parent-child bond, suggesting that for dogs the authoritarian parenting style is most optimal as it is for children. Though the causality of dog-directed parenting and dog to owner attachment remains to be evidenced. Here we find that dog-directed parenting styles may be a route for facilitating appropriate dog to owner attachment and thereby protects dogs from negative emotional states and impaired welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ISAE Benelux conference 2018
PublisherInternational Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE)
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventBenelux Conference of the International Society for Applied Ethology 2018 - Experimental Poultry Centre, Geel, Belgium
Duration: 10 Oct 201810 Oct 2018


ConferenceBenelux Conference of the International Society for Applied Ethology 2018
Abbreviated titleISAE Benelux 2018


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