Friday, June 28, 2013

Our Dogs = Our Babies?

Earlier this week an article on caught my eye because it stated something I know I'm guilty of: "Turns out our dogs kind of are our 'babies': study"

Sound familiar?

The article goes on to show a lot of parallel between human children and fur children and how their parents/owners treat them: special research into nutrition, ensuring their health with many doctors' appointments, spending money on bedding and toys (more than you probably should, for both species), feeling like you're their protector, etc.

The article states "It's no wonder: Our dogs react to us in a manner that eerily mimics how human children respond to their parents..."

I'm one to believe, yes, this is true. Matt and I don't have human children at this moment, just fur kids, but they act so much like human children at times it can be scary. Both of them love to cuddle with us--Dally likes to spoon when me in bed, her head resting on my pillow, at night. LaMesa reacts to our moods and commands like a child.

And, yes, there are times I'll have conversations with both of them--who doesn't? Maybe it's because I don't have much face-to-face interaction with other adults right now. But, with Dally, it's always been that way--for many years it was just me, Dally, and Mara, whether in Texas, Oklahoma, or Kentucky. We had many long road trips together, and you can only talk on the phone for so long.

Anyway, I digress....back to the study:

A researcher did tests to see if dogs tend to thrive due to what they call a "secure base effect" that's found in tight families, like children do.

Here's how the test went: Dogs were allowed to earn food rewards when they manipulated interactive toys. There were three different situations: an "absent owner," a "silent owner," and an "encouraging owner." And, like almost anyone in agility can tell you before reading the results of this study, the researcher found that the dogs seemed much less interested in working for the treats with the absence of their owner.

The interesting thing I read was that there wasn't much influence in the dog's motivation to work between the two tests of the dogs working for a silent owner and an encouraging owner. I would have thought there'd be more excited and more wanting to work for an encouraging owner rather than a silent one, after all that's how we're taught to train for agility, right?

In short, the report said: "The pooches appeared to be most comfortable and most willing to take a chance simply due to being near their owners--offering 'the first evidence for the similarity between the 'secure base effect' found in dog-owner and child-caregiver relationships.' "  

So what do you think of the study? Does your dog mimic that of a human child? 


  1. Interesting. I wonder if the lack of difference in performance was due to the dog's having to really concentrate on the puzzles.

    I know i would be annoyed if people were cheering for me if I was trying to do math problems. Even really basic math which wouldn't require a lot of difficulty it would still use up brain power. But people cheering during physical activity is very encouraging and could help me stick with it and even try harder.