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Dog Research: Dogs Like, Dogs Snub

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

Dog-centric research
compiled by Dirk Manley, Improbable Research staff

Dog Likes You Like You Like Dog?
“I Like My Dog, Does My Dog Like Me?” Therese Rehn, Ulrika Lindholm, Linda Keeling, and Björn Forkman, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 150, 2014, pp. 65– 73. The authors, at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and at the University of Copenhagen, explain:

In this study, the possibility of there being an association between how an owner perceives his/her relationship to their dog and the way the dog experiences the relationship to its owner was investigated using two well-established methods... the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP)... and the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale...

[There] is no support from this study for the view that the strength of the relationship an owner feels to his/her dog is mirrored in the strength of the bond of the dog to its owner.

Do Dogs Snub Those Who Snub Those Whom Dogs Like?
“Dogs Avoid People Who Behave Negatively to Their Owner: Third-Party Affective Evaluation,” Hitomi Chijiiwa, Hika Kuroshima, Yusuke Hori, James R. Anderson, and Kazuo Fujita, Animal Behaviour, vol. 106, 2015, pp. 123-127. The authors, at Kyoto University, Japan, explain:

In two experimental conditions, the dog’s owner tried to open a container to get a junk object that was inside, then requested help from an actor sitting next to her/him, while the dog watched the interaction. In the Helper condition, the actor held the container stable to help the owner to open it. In the Nonhelper condition, the actor turned away and refused to help. In the Control condition, the actor simply turned away in the absence of any request for help. A neutral person sat at the other side of the owner throughout these interactions. After the interaction the actor and the neutral person each offered a piece of food to the dog. Dogs chose food randomly in the Helper and the Control conditions, but were biased against the actor in the Nonhelper condition.


This article is republished with permission from the January-February 2016 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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