Welcome to Dogs of Edinburgh and thank you for your interest in our research! We are currently running an Edinburgh-based experiment on the Human-Dog Bond and would love if you could take part! The study will explore the relationship between personality, interactions and mutual attachment. If you have several dogs, choose the dog you feel the closest to. First of all, we need you to fill in an online survey which takes about 30 minutes. At the end of the survey you will be provided a link to a calendar to book in a slot to participate in the experiment. The experiment will take place at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, and takes 45 minutes. During the experiment we will film you, your dog and one of our research assistants as you interact with the dog. To participate, your dog must have lived with you for at least 6 months and be over 1 year old. The dog must also be social and non-aggressive with people. We will be running the experiment until the end of June, so if you are busy now, book in a slot in a few weeks time.
To get started, fill in our survey here!
Our study is now done! Subscribe to our page to get updates on the results.
The positive effects of interacting with dogs on human mental and physical health have been extensively documented. Human companionship for dogs can reduce the impact of novelty and threat and have a positive effect on the dog’s physical health. However, these mutual health benefits depend on positive social interactions and the success of the relationship. As dog owners comprise a large part of the population of the Western world, it is in the interest of these citizens and their dogs to help them form a mutually successful bond. Large numbers of dogs are today relinquished to shelters. One of the most common reasons for relinquishment is behaviour problems. However, some researchers have suggested that this depends on owner commitment. That is, owners of dogs with behaviour problems are less likely to give them up if they are more attached to their dogs. By ensuring, or increasing, mutual attachment between dog owners and their dogs, dog relinquishment and return of dogs to shelters may diminish. This study will examine what personality combinations and interactions influence the development of a mutual bond and prevent dog behaviour problems. A personality match-making model could be applied by breeders to prevent relinquishment through a successful bond, and optimise adoption processes at shelters. Finding what type and frequency of interactions is associated with stronger mutual attachment, and low occurrence of behaviour problems, may also help breeders, rescue organisations and other professionals to give dog owners activity recommendations and guidelines. These models could ensure that human-dog dyads can enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of a successful bond, enhancing their wellbeing, and consequentially, reducing the number of dogs euthanised in shelters.