Does Pet Parenting Style predict the social and problem-solving behavior of pet dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)?

Anim Cogn. 2023 Jan;26(1):345-356. doi: 10.1007/s10071-022-01694-6. Epub 2022 Sep 30.


The behavior and cognition of pet domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) has drawn increasing scientific attention over the last several decades. One area of focus has been the influence of lifetime variables, including the home environment and prior experiences, on the social and problem-solving behavior of dogs. While the human-dog relationship has become an important area of study, only a few studies have empirically investigated how the quality of that relationship may influence a dog's performance on behavioral or cognitive tasks. In the current study, we asked if a human caretaker's self-reported expectations and patterns of responding towards their dog (Pet Parenting Style) would predict the dog's social and problem-solving behavior. Owners who had previously been asked to complete a Pet Parenting Style survey were later invited to have their dogs participate in three behavioral tests: The Secure Base Test, a Sociability Test and the Solvable Task. Consistent with the human development literature, results indicated that Pet Parenting Styles did predict patterns of dog behavior and cognition on these tests. On average, dogs with authoritative owners (high expectations, high responsiveness) had the highest rate of secure attachment, were highly social, sensitive to social context and were more persistent and successful on the problem-solving task than dogs with authoritarian owners (high expectations and low responsiveness) and permissive owners (low expectations, low responsiveness). These findings suggest that the quality and style of individual dog-human relationships, including Pet Parenting Style, may be relevant when evaluating and interpreting outcomes of canine cognition research.

Keywords: Dog cognition; Human–animal bond; Pet Parenting Style; Solvable task.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Cognition
  • Dogs
  • Human-Animal Bond*
  • Humans
  • Parenting
  • Problem Solving