Does attachment to man already exist in 2 months old normally raised dog puppies? A pilot study
Based on the current knowledge, adult dogs are able to establish an attachment bond towards their owners and puppies are able to establish an attachment bond towards their mother. The aim of the current study was to assess whether dog attachment to people already exists in puppies.
Fourteen 2 months old puppies were tested in the Ainsworth Strange Situation test in which the role of the human caregiver was played by the person with whom puppies had interacted more in their first weeks of life, i.e. their breeder.
As expected, puppies displayed more protest at separation (whining, behaviors against the door, close to the door etc.) when involuntarily separated from the breeder. They also increased the seeking of proximity after separation, but they did not show a clear preference for the breeder over a human stranger. The duration of exploration, play and resting seem to be related to the order of episodes more than to a secure base effect.
The findings of this preliminary study do not fully support the hypothesis that dogs establish an attachment bond towards their human caregivers since puppies, provided that they are raised by their mother. It is likely that a longer time spent together is needed for this peculiar kind of bond to be formed.