Influence of owners' attachment style and personality on their dogs' (Canis familiaris) separation-related disorder

Veronika Konok, András Kosztolányi, Wohlfarth Rainer, Bettina Mutschler, Ulrike Halsband, Ádám Miklósi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has suggested that owners' attitude to their family dogs may contribute to a variety of behaviour problems in the dog, and authors assume that dogs with separation-related disorder (SRD) attach differently to the owner than typical dogs do. Our previous research suggested that these dogs may have an insecure attachment style. In the present study we have investigated whether owners' attachment style, personality traits and the personality of the dog influence the occurrence of SRD in the dog. In an internet-based survey 1508 (1185 German and 323 Hungarian) dog-owners filled in five questionnaires: Demographic questions, Separation Behaviour Questionnaire (to determine SRD), Human and Dog Big Five Inventory and Adult Attachment Scale. We found that with owners' higher score on attachment avoidance the occurrence of SRD in the dog increases. Dogs scoring higher on the neuroticism scale were more prone to develop SRD. Our results suggest that owners' attachment avoidance may facilitate the development of SRD in dogs. We assume that avoidant owners are less responsive to the dog's needs and do not provide a secure base for the dog when needed. As a result dogs form an insecure attachment and may develop SRD. However, there may be alternative explanations of our findings that we also discuss.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0118375
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 23 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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