Unconditional Love

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You love your dog but does your dog love you back? They lick us, want to hang out with us, jump up to greet us with wagging tails, romp, play and sleep with us and watch over us when we’re sick. It certainly looks like they love us. A new study has been examining this unique relationship which spans thousands of years. No other animal on earth shares as close a bond with people as dogs.

The Swedish study investigated whether or not there is a link between how an owner feels about their dog and how the dog feels about the owner. Does the strength of the owner’s love for their dog have a bearing on the strength of the dogs’ bond to the owner?  The researchers used a questionnaire called the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale, developed here in Australia. They studied dog-human interactions and how the dogs behaved when just their owner was present compared to the owner and a stranger present. They also looked at how the dog greeted the owner when they came back into the room after a short separation.

The findings suggest that owners who interact frequently with their dog have dogs showing more proximity-seeking behaviour and less independent play behaviour. This might be a consequence of being reinforced for close interaction by the owner. The dogs greeted their owner more than they greeted the stranger and spent more time close to their owner. The researchers say this shows “the owner is a unique person to the dog from whom it seeks comfort, security and reassurance.” And we love them for it!

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