Does Your Dog’s Personality Match Yours?

If you remember an early scene in Disney’s animated feature 101 Dalmatians where Pongo is looking out the window for a prospective mate for his “pet” (owner), every woman and her dog he sees is a matched pair.

There could be some truth to that.  Research has shown that people do choose dogs that share their physical characteristics.  For example, overweight people are partial to heavier dogs.  In other words, we tend to favor pets that remind us of ourselves.

Now research is taking this one step farther.  Animal behavior researchers have long known that dogs pick up on our moods — they can sense when things in their home are tense, or when their humans are unhappy.  But according to a recent study  in the journal PLOS, that sensitivity means that dogs often take on elements of our personalities, too.

The authors recruited 132 dogs and their owners, then monitored the stress of each member of the pair using behavioral tests (observing how they reacted to perceived threats) and physical characteristics (like heart rate).  Each human also filled out a survey to measure their levels of the Big Five personality traits — agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness — and filled out a similar questionnaire about their pets’ personalities.

They found the more anxious and neurotic the owner,  the more likely the dog was to share those same traits.  On the other hand, relaxed owners were more likely to have calmer dogs.

“Owners and dogs are social dyads [a group of two], and they influence each other’s stress coping,” said lead author Iris Schoberl, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Vienna.  The study authors think the human is likely to be more influential than the dog — we’re more likely to pass our traits to our dogs than to adopt theirs.  That’s something to think about when you’re training your dog: The best way to have a calm pet may be to set a good example.

Read the complete article at http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/02/why-your-dogs-personality-is-a-lot-like-yours.html? .  The photo came from that article.

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