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Human attachment style reflects in the dog-owner relationship

Last changed: 27 February 2018

A recent study from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences investigated the adult attachment style in dog owners, which describes how you relate to other people, including aspects such as support and caregiving. In addition to this, a practical experiment tested how the dog sought contact and support from the owner in different challenging situations, such as a sudden loud noise or an odd stranger approaching.

Results show that dogs that lived with an owner that had a secure attachment style were able to focus more on the potential threat, while dogs living with a more anxious owner focused more on the owner. If the owner had an avoidant attachment style, the dog was less likely to seek physical contact during challenging situations.

The correlations between dog owner adult attachment style and dog behaviour imply that dogs develop different strategies to cope with challenges, based on the type of support, security and encouragement they receive from the owner.

Link to the publication


Rehn, T., Beetz, A., Keeling, L.J. 2017. Links between an owner's adult attachment style and the support-seeking behavior of their dog. Frontiers in Psychology. 8:2059. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02059