Throughout history, up until now; people have often suggested that powerful relationships are established through play. By analogy, studies have shown that a competitive games can affect dog-human relationships, in a positive way.
There was a Rooney and Bradshaw study done on this idea/fact in 2002, let’s look at the study in deeper details:
The study had fourteen Golden Retrievers, each were experimented to two games: 20 sessions of a ‘tug of war’ game which the Retrievers were allowed to win, and 20 experiments which the Retrievers lost; the relationship with the experimenter was then assessed. There is a factor which is most closely corresponding to the conventional dominance, which is Confidence; however, confidence was not affected by the treatments. The Retrievers/Dogs scored higher for obedient attentiveness after play treatment regardless of whether they won or lost the experiment/game, and also, the demanding scores increased with familiarity of the experiment person. The top ten most playful Retrievers/Dogs scored much higher for playful attention seeking after winning the experiment rather than after losing the experiment. In conclusion, the dominance dimensions of the Dog-Human relationship seem to be unaffected in regards to the outcome of the repetitive ‘tug of war’ game experiment; however, effects of games can also be modified by the different presences of the play signals, and, games/experiments may also be assumed to be a greater significance for small population of ” potentially dominant” dogs.
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