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Article

Attachment towards the Owner Is Associated with Spontaneous Sleep EEG Parameters in Family Dogs

1
Doctoral School of Biology, Institute of Biology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
2
Department of Ethology, Institute of Biology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
3
MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
4
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Björn Forkman
Received: 28 February 2022 / Revised: 28 March 2022 / Accepted: 30 March 2022 / Published: 31 March 2022
Dogs have been shown to form attachment bonds towards their owners analogous to the human infant-parent attachment. In humans, the neurological background of variation in attachment and similar trait-like social behaviors has been described. It is known that certain sleep parameters are in association with an individual’s attachment-related traits. In the current study, we provide the first evidence that dogs’ attachment towards their owner is also associated to dogs’ sleep structure (the time they spend in the different sleep stages) as well as to their brain activity during sleep. Thus, as in humans, when dogs sleep in a novel environment (in the presence of their owners), differences in their attachment bond are reflected in their sleep EEG characteristics.
Affective neuroscience studies have demonstrated the impact of social interactions on sleep quality. In humans, trait-like social behaviors, such as attachment, are related to sleep brain activity patterns. Our aim was to investigate associations between companion dogs’ spontaneous brain activity during sleep (in the presence of the owner) and their relevant behavior in a task-free social context assessing their attachment towards the owner. In random order, each dog participated in a non-invasive sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) measurement and in the Strange Situation Test (SST) to assess their attachment behavior. We found that higher attachment scores were associated with more time spent in NREM sleep, lower NREM alpha power activity and lower NREM alpha–delta anticorrelation. Our results reveal that, when dogs sleep in a novel environment in the company of their owners, differences in their attachment are reflected in their sleep EEG characteristics. This could be best explained by the different degree that owners could be used as a safe haven in an unfamiliar environment and during the unusual procedure of the first EEG measurement. View Full-Text
Keywords: affective neuroscience; social bond; behavior; dog–human interaction; emotion regulation; canine EEG; sleep architecture; brain activity; animal model affective neuroscience; social bond; behavior; dog–human interaction; emotion regulation; canine EEG; sleep architecture; brain activity; animal model
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MDPI and ACS Style

Carreiro, C.; Reicher, V.; Kis, A.; Gácsi, M. Attachment towards the Owner Is Associated with Spontaneous Sleep EEG Parameters in Family Dogs. Animals 2022, 12, 895. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ani12070895

AMA Style

Carreiro C, Reicher V, Kis A, Gácsi M. Attachment towards the Owner Is Associated with Spontaneous Sleep EEG Parameters in Family Dogs. Animals. 2022; 12(7):895. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ani12070895

Chicago/Turabian Style

Carreiro, Cecília, Vivien Reicher, Anna Kis, and Márta Gácsi. 2022. "Attachment towards the Owner Is Associated with Spontaneous Sleep EEG Parameters in Family Dogs" Animals 12, no. 7: 895. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ani12070895

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