Are You Your Dog’s Favorite Person? Scientists Don’t Think So

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
A recent study reveals that context and environment can change the way a dog treats their owner. Spoiler alert: you might not like to know how.

People who prefer dogs over cats often like to point out that dogs are more loyal and form deeper bonds with their owners. Well, a team of researchers in Florida, possibly funded by our feline masters, just revealed that this might not be true. But don’t despair- all’s not lost yet.

The paper, published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior reveals that it takes only three 10-minute interacting for a pooch to treat a stranger differently, or, to be more precise, become more interested in them than in you- this happened in 70 percent of cases. Sorry peeps, stats don’t lie.

However, although their findings indicate that dogs prefer strangers over us, their faithful companions who buy them kibble, it’s only the case in specific situations. Namely, dogs tend to focus more on strangers if they are in a familiar environment or situation. As soon as they ’re in any kind of stressful, unfamiliar circumstances, their reactions change.

In 80 percent of the cases, dogs who were “in new places or during moments of discomfort” sought out their owners and spent more time with them rather than being petted by strangers. Essentially, we became interesting again as soon as they started to feel uncomfortable. Not the reaction any of us was going for, but hey, it’s better than nothing!

But look on the bright side- the team revealed that dogs are capable to quickly form a bond with strangers, meaning that rescue pooches don’t pine for their previous owners for long. Although being abandoned in a shelter is a major stressor for a dog, at least there’s some comfort knowing that pooches who get a second chance truly treasure it.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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