Bonded by nature: humans form equally strong and reciprocated bonds with similar raised dogs and wolves

Burkhard, M.E., Range, F., Ward, S.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-5857-1071 and Robinson, L.M., 2023. Bonded by nature: humans form equally strong and reciprocated bonds with similar raised dogs and wolves. Frontiers in Psychology, 13: 1044940. ISSN 1664-1078

1631408_Ward.pdf - Published version

Download (1MB) | Preview


Introduction: To explore human-canid relationships, we tested similarly socialized and raised dogs (Canis familiaris) and wolves (Canis lupus) and their trainers in a wildlife park. The aims of our study were twofold: first, we aimed to test which factors influenced the relationships that the trainers formed with the dogs or wolves and second, we investigated if the animals reacted to the trainers in accordance with the trainers’ perceptions of their relationship.

Methods: To achieve these goals, we assessed the relationships using a human-animal bonds survey, which the trainers used to rate the bonds between themselves and their peers with the canids, and by observing dyadic trainer-canid social interactions.

Results: Our preliminary results given the small sample size and the set-up of the research center, demonstrate that our survey was a valid way to measure these bonds since trainers seem to perceive and agree on the strength of their bonds with the animals and that of their fellow trainers. Moreover, the strength of the bond as perceived by the trainers was mainly predicted by whether or not the trainer was a hand-raiser of the specific animal, but not by whether or not the animal was a wolf or a dog. In the interaction test, we found that male animals and animals the trainers felt more bonded to, spent more time in proximity of and in contact with the trainers; there was no difference based on species.

Discussion: These results support the hypothesis that wolves, similarly to dogs, can form close relationships with familiar humans when highly socialized (Canine Cooperation Hypothesis). Moreover, as in other studies, dogs showed more submissive behaviors than wolves and did so more with experienced than less experienced trainers. Our study suggests that humans and canines form differentiated bonds with each other that, if close, are independent of whether the animal is a wolf or dog.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Frontiers in Psychology
Creators: Burkhard, M.E., Range, F., Ward, S.J. and Robinson, L.M.
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Date: 4 January 2023
Volume: 13
ISSN: 1664-1078
Rights: © 2023 Burkhard, Range, Ward and Robinson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 09 Jan 2023 09:21
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2023 09:21

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year