The regulation of stress by an attachment figure is a key feature
of attachment relationships. Previous research suggests that in some
cases animal companionship may be regarded as an attachment relationship.
This may be particularly important for persons with an insecure or disorganized
attachment pattern who may find it more difficult than securely
attached individuals to accept social support from humans. In our study, we
investigated whether 31 boys (aged 7–12 years) with insecure/disorganized
attachment would profit more from the presence of a dog (n = 11) than of a
friendly human (n = 11) or a toy dog (n = 9) as support during a socially
stressful situation (Trier Social Stress Test for Children, TSST-C).