Although many of us call our shih tzu “children”, this has more to do with how we view our animals than how they view us.
However, a recent discovery shows that shih tzus actually act differently when they are around their owners, suggesting that they also see us in a special way.
The relationship between owners and shih tzu is similar to the relationship between parents and children.
The study is based on the theory that shih tzu and children share the “secure base effect.” The idea behind this concept is that the presence of parents allows children to explore and interact with their environment, always knowing that they will find a safe base in their parents.
In this way, the presence of parents gives children confidence and encourages them to interact with things around them. Shih tzus see owners as “parents”.
To test this same effect in dogs, researchers at the Vetmeduni Messerli Research Institute in Austria created three different conditions: the absent owner, the silent owner, and the encouraging owner. In the first situation, the dog did not have the presence of its owner, while in the second the owner was present but did not say anything and in the third, the owner encouraged his dog.
The dogs in the research were given a smart toy and, for solving it, they received a reward. The results of the research showed us that the dogs wanted to interact with the toy much more when their owners were present.
Interestingly, it didn’t make much difference whether the owner encouraged the dog or if he didn’t say anything. Its presence already had a big effect on how the dog interacted with its environment. The dog felt more confident to play and try new things when the owner was around.
Kong VermelhoSmart toys like this one, in addition to being fun, can be used to make your dog more confident in a new situation, like in his carrier.
Alone or with a stranger makes no difference: it is the presence of the owner that is important
The researchers decided to see if having an unfamiliar person on the premises would encourage the dogs to interact with the toy more than when they were alone. For the dog, it made no difference whether he was alone or with an unknown person. Only the presence of the owner encouraged him to interact and solve the smart toy challenge.
Save this image to PinterestSomehow the owner gives the dog confidence to interact with the world. Thus, the owner serves as a secure base for the shih tzu, in the same way, that the presence of the parents gives confidence for their children to explore things around them.
The study authors conclude, “This study provides the first evidence of the similarity between the ‘secure base effect’ found in owner-dog and parent-child relationships.”