As a long-time child psychologist and dog lover, I thought this new research was interesting:
Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna recently reported their results on the similarities between infant/parent and dog/owner bonds (Horn, Huber & Range, PLoS One, May, 2013).
According to Attachment Theory, human infants have an innate need to be close to their caregivers; one aspect of this attachment is called the "secure base": a caregiver who is sensitive and responsive to his or her infant's signals becomes an attachment figure, a secure base, as the child explores the environment; this sense of security gives the child confidence to try new things, venture out into new situations, and meet new people, trusting that the primary caregiver is there in times of stress.
An eighteen month old child with a secure attachment to the primary caregiver (usually the parent) will play alone until something worrisome happens (maybe a stranger approaches), and then run back to the caregiver for comfort, perhaps briefly, receive reassurance, and then confidently go off to play again. Children who are presented with a problem-solving task are more persistent when their parents are present and they can use the parents as a secure base.