The domesticated dog (Canis lupus familiaris) has been living in close association with humans for over 15,000 years, resulting in a unique interspecies relationship. The type of bond a human has to a dog can vary greatly, although most dog-owner relationships are emotional in their nature and can resemble a child-parent like attachment. The dog-owner relationship is not necessarily affected by a dog being rehomed, it could however have an impact in the way a dog interacts with novelty (e.g. novel situations or strangers). However, while the relationship between an owner and a rehomed dog could be affected by several factors, e.g. personalities and contact-seeking behaviour, the relationship itself could affect factors such as stress. In addition, behavioural synchronization can both affect and be affected by the dog-owner relationship.
Due to Covid-19, more people started working from home, and during 2020 an increase in registered dogs could be observed in the Swedish kennel club, potentially leading to another cause for relinquishment when covid-19 restrictions are eased and people go back to their workplaces. Hence the importance to gain knowledge of rehomed dogs and their stress, behaviour, and the relationship they have to their new owner.
The aim of this study was to investigate the dog-owner relationship with a rehomed dog, as well as to assess the behaviour and long-term stress. This was done by comparing rehomed dogs with a control group regarding following parameters:
- Dog-owner relationship
- Long-term stress
- Contact-seeking behaviour
- Physical activity
- Behavioural synchronization
- The personalities of the dogs and their owners