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Proud CGC Parent
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought this was an interesting blurb from chapter 5: How Puppies Became Pets, of John Bradshaw's book Dog Sense.

"Most dogs seem to become more distressed when they are separated from their owners than when they are separated from other dogs. So the question arises, Do dogs love people more than they love other dogs?

This doesn't sound like a particularly scientific sort of question, but it could be a test of just how domesticated dogs have become. Few scientists have ever considered this a question worthy of an answer, but there is one study that conclusively shows that dogs are indeed prone to bonding more strongly with people than with other dogs[12].

The subjects of the study were eight mongrels, seven to nine years of age, who had been living as littermate pairs in kennels since they were eight weeks old; all had been fully socialized to people, and they were being looked after by one carer who was, as far as they were concerned, their "owner". When the experiment began, the kennel-mates had not been apart even for a minute during the previous two years, and hardly ever during their whole lifetimes. However, when one of each pair was taken out of earshot for four hours, the remaining dog's behavior did not alter appreciably. Puppies separated from their littermates will usually yelp until they are reunited, but these adult dogs barely even barked. Moreover, the level of stress hormone cortisol in their blood did not change as a result of the separation, provided the dogs had been left in their familiar pen. Overall, therefore, there was no indication that any of these dogs was upset--this despite the fact that, since they had virtually no history of being left alone, they would not have been sure that they'd be back with their pen-mate in a few hours' time.

In contrast, when the dogs were taken to an unfamiliar kennel, they did become upset. They were visibly agitated, and their levels of stress hormone went up by over 50 percent. Remarkably, this proved true whether they were on their own or with their kennel-mate. When the two were together, they did not interact any more frequently than usual; whatever the bond between them, it was not sufficiently comforting or confidence-building to help them cope with being somewhere new, outside their familiar territory. However, if their carer sat quietly with each dog in the novel kennel, it would stay near him and pester him for contact (which he responded to by brief episodes of stroking). This was apparently enough to alleviate the dogs' stress completely, because if the carer was there, their cortisol levels stayed close to normal[13].

These dogs, although they'd kept the company of another dog for their whole lives, behaved as if they were much more attached to their caretaker than to their brother or sister. While they had not led quite the same kind of life as a pet does, everyday experience suggests that the same is probably true of pet dogs. Dogs do have territories, in the sense that they feel most calm when they are in familiar places, but like the wolf, they can comfortably go to new places if they are with their "pack"--the difference being that in this case the key "pack" member is almost always a human (namely, the owner) and not a member of their own species.

[12] David Tuber, Michael Hennessy, Suzanne Sanders, and Julia Miller, "Behavioral and glucocorticoid responses of adult domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to companionship and social separation," Journal of Comparative Psychology 110 (1996): 103-108.
[13] Subsequent research has shown that dogs' stress hormone levels are different depending not only on the gender of their owners or carers (lower if they are women) but also on their personalities (lower if the owners are extroverts).
 

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Kelevra
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thats a wonderful post !
I love studying behavioral psychology, and Im super sensitive to the feelings and energies of others. I definately notice a stronger "bond" between owner/dog than any dog/dog combo, there are definately exceptions as always, Ive seen some inseperable dogs:)
 

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I didn't read the whole post I am blurry eyed tired but there are dog dogs and people dogs. I have a combo of both in my house. There are dogs who prefer to be with other dogs vs humans. One main reason my dogs live in kennels outside when I am not working them and without a companion (if not DA). If they have other dogs to play with all day you can become less important. If they get not stimulation from other dogs they are egger to work with you and get attention when separated from others.
 

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Good question. I watched an awesome documentary a while back about the domestication of dogs: how it happened and why. One theory was that throughout our parallel evolutions our lives and those of our canine companions have dove-tailed and now both humans and dogs now NEED each other and depend on each other due to our long standing symbiosis. Dogs have evolved to know how to read human body language to an extent. Not to mention, we provide things that their doggy friends do not: food, toys, treats, etc. We are a good source of "good stuff".

But honestly, I don't know the actual reason :p
 

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English Dogge Yard
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I didn't read the whole post I am blurry eyed tired but there are dog dogs and people dogs. I have a combo of both in my house. There are dogs who prefer to be with other dogs vs humans. One main reason my dogs live in kennels outside when I am not working them and without a companion (if not DA). If they have other dogs to play with all day you can become less important. If they get not stimulation from other dogs they are egger to work with you and get attention when separated from others.
:goodpost:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah, there are always exceptions. :) Reading that blurb just made me think of that saying I always hear about pit bulls--they don't need other dogs, they just need you.

@Carriana -- Bradshaw actually discusses the latest scientific thinking about the origin of how wolves became proto-dogs then became dogs as we know them today. He discusses it in the first few chapters of the book. But that's a lot of typing. LOL. ;)
 

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What book is this? I might like to read it.
 
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