Assessment of attachment behaviour to human caregivers in wolf pups (canis lupus lupus)

Nathaniel J. Hall, Kathryn Lord, Anne Marie K Arnold, Clive Wynne, Monique A R Udell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Previous research suggested that 16-week old dog pups, but not wolf pups, show attachment behaviour to a human caregiver. Attachment to a caregiver in dog pups has been demonstrated by differential responding to a caregiver compared to a stranger in the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test. We show here that 3-7 week old wolf pups also show attachment-like behaviour to a human caregiver as measured by preferential proximity seeking, preferential contact, and preferential greeting to a human caregiver over a human stranger in a modified and counterbalanced version of the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test. In addition, our results show that preferential responding to a caregiver over a stranger is only apparent following brief isolation. In initial episodes, wolf pups show no differentiation between the caregiver and the stranger; however, following a 2-min separation, the pups show proximity seeking, more contact, and more greeting to the caregiver than the stranger. These results suggest intensive human socialization of a wolf can lead to attachment-like responding to a human caregiver during the first two months of a wolf pup's life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural processes
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Attachment
  • Canis lupus
  • Domestication
  • Strange situation test
  • Wolves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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