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Posted on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

Findings of recent study reinforce concept that dogs respond favorably to direct, positive interaction from humans

By Lorrie Shaw


flickr photo by SuperFantastic

I often talk about the fact that dogs love, no — need — one-on-one attention and companionship. Canines are incredibly social animals, and fail to thrive when they don't get the human contact that they need.

They love eye contact, to be petted and talked to, interactive play and to be in their humans' midst.

The findings from a study that researchers from Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany back this up further.

An experiment, one that included 32 dogs, showed that canines can develop a preference for a human depending upon direct interaction.

Researchers honed in on the findings by first exposing 32 dogs (16 male and 16 female) to two similar-looking female human participants in an enclosed room for 30 seconds each, one at a time, right after the other.

One "friendly" human participant would play with the dog subject, while the other person would ignore them. Afterwards, the dog was taken out of the room and the same humans re-entered. The dog was then brought back in and allowed to freely meander around the room for 30 seconds. During this phase of the experiment, the dogs spent significantly more time in the proximity of the "friendly" experimenter.

My mantra comes to mind when considering this: spend half as much money, and twice as much time with your dog, and they'll be happier, better adjusted and more eager to be near you.

Click here to read more on the study.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly.



Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 9:41 a.m.

I know my dogs love being in my presence, even if we're not engaged in play. If I'm reading or watching TV and I notice a dog is missing from the room, that's sometimes a sign somethings wrong & I'll go find them, make sure they're feeling OK and usually they'll join the rest of the pack soon enough


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

I would not suggest strangers give unfamiliar dogs eye contact. This can be read by the dog as a sign of aggression.. I say this from experience. I have had dogs who love, and are loved by, their family - BUT - anyone else look them in the eyes and their reaction is baring of the teeth and a low threatening growl. Very scary. And if you reach out to touch a dog who doesn't yet trust very careful. Never take for granted a dog will immediately accept you as a pal just because he/she is friendly with their owner or handler.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Well, actually it is true. Is it true with all dogs? Of course not. But there is a significant percentage of dogs (likely even a minority) who will react in the way @Themadcatter describes. I am happy for you that you were not attacked in your work-related activities, but I think you should count yourself lucky that you apparently did not encounter a dog displaying alpha behavior toward you. I can personally attest to such experiences, and I grew up with dogs in my household.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 9:39 a.m.

Not true- as a former employee for a certain electric company, I used to enter strangers backyards, 100's a day, to read meters. I was often confronted by dogs that did not know me. I looked them straight in the eye and spoke to them as though I knew them (even gave a few commands as if they were mine) and never got bit once. I did, however, get a few tennis balls dropped at my feet and was expected to stick around & play.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

Excellent advice.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

"Findings of recent study reinforce concept that dogs respond favorably to direct, positive interaction from humans" ....True for every living thing more complex than a head of lettuce. Seriously - how much they get to conduct THIS study??


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

Hmm, so this refutes prior evidence that beating your dog and yelling at him is best?

Blue Marker

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Not only do my dogs need and enjoy human interaction but this human needs and enjoys canine interaction. We're best friends for a good reason. There is no doubt in my mind I'm a better person because of my two best buddies! P.S. I agree with the previous commenter, great photo!


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

Makes sense. I just like your hand-paw picture though. :)

Sarah Rigg

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Haha, it sounds like one of those studies where you wonder why someone was paid to investigate the obvious, but if you look more closely, the study is trying to prove whether dogs can learn by observing other dogs interacting with humans (they probably cannot) or whether they need direct experience with a human to form an opinion (they probably do).