The Dog-Owner Bond in Multi-Person Households

Effects of Caregiving Styles on Dog Attachment

  • Elena Volk MacEwan University


This study aims to investigate whether the effects of different caregiver characteristics, such as sensitivity, warmth, and attachment style, will have the same effect on the attachment style displayed by the caregiver’s pet dogs as the attachment style infants develop towards their parents (i.e., secure vs. insecure). Additionally, this study aims to investigate how the presence of multiple owners with varying attachment and caregiving styles contribute to the attachment style pet dogs display towards each owner. To this end, our study will use a modified Strange Situation Procedure to observe the differences in a pet dog’s attachment towards two of its owners and compare this with both owner’s caregiving and attachment style scores. We hypothesize that, similar to the infant-parent attachment literature: (1) dog owners with an insecure attachment style will display either too high or too low levels of warmth and sensitivity in their caregiving behaviours and will therefore be more likely to have an insecurely attached pet dog, (2) pet dogs with two securely attached owners will be most attached to the owner with the more secure attachment style (3) pet dogs that have one owner with an insecure attachment style and another owner with a secure attachment style will be more likely to develop a global insecure attachment style, and (4) pet dogs with an insecure attachment style will show more problem behaviours than securely attached pet dogs.

Discipline: Psychology (Honours)

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Eric Legge