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Did you know that your very presence affects your dog's brain and behavior?

Researchers in Vienna have shown that dogs, like children, are more curious, playful and adventurous in the presence of the people they love most.

 

In 2013, Lisa Horn and her colleagues at the Clever Dog Lab in Vienna investigated a particular part of the dog-human relationship that is commonly referred to as the secure base effect, a concept initially studied in the mid-1900s between human infants and their mothers.

Child psychologists found that in the presence of a figure of attachment (i.e., the mother), infants are more likely to explore, investigate and interact with a novel environment.

This was a big-deal finding, and renowned child psychologist Mary Ainsworth suggested that “the secure base effect was the most important component of the attachment system because it is crucial for balancing the maturing infants’ exploration of the world with maintaining proximity to the caregiver” (Horn et al. 2013).


Last year, the Vienna researchers investigated the secure base effect in dogs. They found that, like children, dogs show more exploratory behavior and were more likely to manipulate a toy when in the presence of their owner, thus supporting the idea that owners can provide a ‘secure base’ for dogs.

 

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