Secure Base

I am not a huge fan (for various reasons) of equating animal guardianship with parenting, but I find this research very interesting, in terms of what it means for our cultural responsibility toward dogs (and potentially other domesticated animals). Laura Moss at MNN with the summary:
Researchers from the Vetmeduni's Messerli Research Institute studied the bond between humans and dogs by testing the animals' confidence levels with and without their owners. They discovered that the "secure base effect" [which leads to infants more confidently exploring the world when their caregiver is present] that exists between parents and children was also present in owner-dog bonding.

...Researchers tested this by observing how dogs responded to food rewards when the owner was absent, when the owner was silent and when the owner was encouraging. They also tested how the animal responded when the owner was replaced with an unknown person.

They found that the dogs' attachment to their owners was very similar to the bond between parent and child.

When the owner was present, the dogs would pursue the food reward and address the dog-toy challenges. Whether or not the owner spoke didn't affect the dog's behavior — the owner's presence was enough to encourage the animal.

"One of the things that really surprised us is that adult dogs behave toward their caregivers like human children do," said researcher Lisa Horn in a news release. "It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behavior evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons."
This is certainly something I've experienced with both of our rescued dogs. Dudley, in particular, was so much more confidently adventurous once he knew we weren't going anywhere.

image of Dudley the Greyhound running, a huge grin on his face, his tongue hanging out, and his ears flapping in the wind
Dudley at the dog park, a few months after coming to live with us.

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