Research: Dogs’ Nursing Habits Yield Dependent Pups

CHICAGO (CBS) – We’ve all heard about helicopter parents. You might be one – flying in to solve your children’s problems.

But as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports the phenomenon may also exist among the interactions between dogs and their pups.

In this report, you will meet therapy dogs like Duchess, Swindle and Rue. New research suggest their natural skills may have something to do with how their moms looked after them at birth.

A researcher at the University of Arizona said a nursing dog lying with her pups, makes it easier to feed – that’s attentive behavior. But a mother standing while feeding, makes her pups work more for their food – and that may help them become more independent.

A few years later, one of her pups while training to be a seeing-eye dog, is not rattled by some animated toys at the far end of the room and graduates into the program. But another dog, who had an easier time feeding barks almost immediately and is turned away.

“When we first got Duchess, I knew she was specials. She was good with people,” said Candice Olson, River North.

Duchess, said her owner, was a shelter rescue. Now with the canine therapy corps, she works beside children with all sorts of developmental or physical challenges with an innate calm.

“That’s Duchess’ strength, she is very good in unpredictable situations,” Olson said.

“Animals that are service dogs need to make all sorts of independent decisions on behalf of their owners,” said Callie Cozzolino.

Callie Cozzolino the corps’ executive director is talking about service animals like seeing-eye dogs. Rou and Swindle, both rescues and therapy dogs seem to have a natural knack for working with others, and it might have to do with how much independence their moms gave them in the first weeks of their lives.

The study’s main researcher found that even though these pups were with their mothers for only five weeks, the attention they received had lasting effects. And as for helicopter parenting, is it wrong to make a lasagna every week and drop it off at campus for your kids?

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