Science

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Dog Owners Love Pets More than Family

May 05, 2008 10:11 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
An Ohio study shows some dog lovers are more attached to dogs than to family. But do our dogs love us back?

30-Second Summary

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A research study at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, showed that some dog lovers feel more attached to their dogs than to their dads.

But the feeling might not be mutual. Lilia Toth, an ethologist at Hungary's Eotvos Lorand University, published a study in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science showing that dogs are receptive to play regardless of which human is offering the invitation. The study raises the question: Are our dogs really loyal?

Lisa Peterson, an American Kennel Club spokesperson, isn’t surprised by dogs’ eagerness to play. “[D]ogs hooked up with humans some 15,000 years ago by pleasing us in exchange for food,” Peterson said. “They are motivated to play and to please, and these drives appear to be stronger than some of their other urges now.”

Fred Metzger, a lecturer at Penn State University and veterinarian proposes that giving your dog to your similarly loving neighbor would make little difference to the dog: “I believe our dogs would adapt to the new life and would become as loyal to the neighbor as they were to us.”

Those living in Edinburgh, Scotland familiar with the story of “Greyfriar’s Bobby” would undoubtedly disagree with Metzger. A statue to one of the world’s most loyal dogs—a Skye terrier named Bobby—still guards the cemetery where his master and he are buried.

Headline Links: We love our dogs, but do they love us?

Background: Understanding the “play bow”

Related Topics: Dogs replaced by robots; new device translates dog language

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