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    Dogs loves us but, how much?

    NewsDog CuriositiesMonday 17 February 2014

    Researchers of the University of Adelaide are studying the interactions between puppies in order to analyse the relationship between dog and owner.

    PhD student Veronika Czerwinski, from the University's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Roseworthy campus, indicates that so far, studies conducted into human-dog attachment have always relied on observational procedures used for human mothers and babies. The current research focuses primarily on attachment behaviours specific to puppies.

    "Dogs and humans have been a part of each other's lives for over 14,000 years, domesticated before agriculture started," as Ms Czerwinski points out. "Over this time we have formed a special bond with dogs and they have learnt to communicate with humans through responding to our verbal and behavioural cues."

    Attachment, everybody knows, is more than just a bond. It has the additional critical components of seeking comfort and security. While well-validated tests for analysing the attachment between a human mother or caregiver and baby, there has not been any serious investigation with dogs and their owners, Ms Czerwinski says.

    The PhD student has started her research by filming and observing the process Labrador litters follow from birth until they reach eight weeks, when they go to new homes.

    Ms Czerwinski's supervisor, Dr Susan Hazel, is a senior lecturer in animal behaviour at the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences. She addresses the valuable information this process can provide: "If the attachment is not normal a puppy is more likely to end up back in an animal shelter and problems that dogs have in later life may well stem from that first relationship. A really good relationship between dog and owner offers all sorts of health and social benefits for people with dogs."



    Image: Joao Correa Carvalho



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