Behaviour 2019
Attachment Behavior in Domestic Dogs: Is the Attachment Style of Pit Bulls Unique?
Bridget Schoville. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, United States

This study investigated the claim that domestic dogs labeled as pit bulls form a stronger attachment to their owner than other dogs.  Twenty pit bull-owner pairs and 20 non-pit bull-owner pairs recruited from the community participated in the study.  Attachment behavior was assessed using a modified version of the Ainsworth Strange Situation Procedure, originally designed to study infantile attachment in humans.  Both Pit bulls and non-pit bulls demonstrated secure base behavior, a critical component of attachment behavior.  This mirrored the findings of earlier studies in support of the dog-owner bond being akin to infantile attachment. No differences in attachment behavior were observed between the pit bull and non-pit bull group.  However, search behavior and perceived anxiety of pit bulls in the absence of their owner appeared to be more ameliorated by the presence of a stranger than non-pit bulls.  While pit bulls did not appear to form a stronger attachment to their owners than non-pit bulls there may be some attachment related differences between pit bulls and other dogs.