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Lessons We Should Learn from Our Unique Relationship with Dogs: An Ethological Approach

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Chapter Summary

This chapter proposes that the combination of psychology and ethology can contribute to our understanding of dog-human attachment and opens the door to create testable hypotheses and predictions regarding dogs' propensity to make strong 'affectional bonds' with us. The concept of attachment bond can be used to study different types of human relationships, and is also a plausible theoretical ground of developing ways to assess attachment in dog-human relationships, which might be used for studying some other species. Human-animal relationships, including those with dogs, can be interpreted in terms of different social frameworks entailing different research approaches. That is, depending on the attitude towards the species we bring to research, both the conceptual framework and the adopted methods will differ. The chapter provides evidence that dogs of low or restricted contact with humans may retain their ability to form new attachment relationships with humans.

Keywords:attachment bond; conceptual framework; dog-human relationships; ethology; psychology



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