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J Comp Psychol. 2001 Dec;115(4):423-431. doi: 10.1037/0735-7036.115.4.423.

Attachment behavior of adult dogs (Canis familiaris) living at rescue centers: forming new bonds.

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Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Comparative Ethology Research Group.


In this study, 60 shelter dogs (Canis familiaris) were observed in the modified version of the Strange Situation Test, which has proved to be a useful method for studying dogs' attachment behavior toward humans (J. Topál, A. Miklósi, V. Csányi, & A. Dóka, 1998). Before testing, 40 dogs were handled 3 times for 10 min. In the test, handled dogs encountered 2 persons: the handler in the role of the "owner" (OW) and an unfamiliar person (UP), whereas the 20 nonhandled dogs encountered unfamiliar persons in both roles. Dogs in the handled group exhibited more contact seeking with the entering OW, less physical contact with the UP, less frequent following of the leaving UP, and less standing by the door in the presence of the OW. The specific response of the handled dogs toward the handler fulfilled the operational criteria of attachment. In shelter conditions, the remarkable demand for social contact with humans may result in rather fast forming of attachment even in adult dogs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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