People and dogs whose personalities are perfect representations of one another: a serene pet parent with a similarly smooth little guy or a cordial pet parent with a canine who welcomes everybody with wet kisses. This probably won’t be only an occurrence, as researchers state that dog character is connected to human character.
Researchers asked some pet parents to participate in a study that was published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. They asked them to rate themselves on five basic character dimensions and to correspond personality characteristics of dogs.
Psychological communities refer to it as “The Big Five,”
Neuroticism (a tendency towards feelings like anxiety and fear)
Openness (level of creativity, curiosity and being open to new ideas)
When dog owners spend more time rubbing their dogs’ bellies, take their dogs for long walks and playing with them, or even when they feel constant frustration over their dogs’ naughty chewing habits, they are gradually shaping their pets’ personalities.
Dogs and people have some personality traits and moods form how they respond in some situations. New results from Michigan State University went where few investigators have gone before to announce that, also like people, dogs’ personalities can change by time.
“When humans go through big changes in life, their personality traits can change. We found that this also happens with dogs – and to a surprisingly large degree,” said William Chopik, professor of psychology and lead author.
“However, we expected the dogs’ personalities to be fairly stable because they don’t have wild lifestyle changes humans do, but they change a lot. We uncovered similarities to their owners, the optimal time for training, and even a time in their lives that they can get more aggressive toward other animals.”
The research, released in the Journal of Research in Personality, is one of the first – and is the biggest – studies of its type to test changes in dogs’ personalities. Chopik surveyed people of more than 1,600 dogs, including 50 breeds.
Dogs extended from just a few weeks old to 15 years and were divided between females and males. The comprehensive survey had owners assess their dog’s personalities and responded to the questions about the dog’s behavioral history. The owners also answered a survey about their personalities.
“We found correlations in three main areas: age and personality, in human-to-dog personality similarities and the influence a dog’s personality has on the quality of its relationship with its owner,” Chopik stated.
“Older dogs are much harder to train; we found that the ‘sweet spot’ for teaching dog obedience is around the age of six when it outgrows its excitable puppy stage but before its too set in its ways.”
One characteristic that changes rarely in age with dogs, Chopik stated, was anxiety and fear.
Honing said, “dogs resemble their owners,” Chopik’s research showed dogs and people share specific personality traits. Extroverted humans rated their dogs as more energetic and excited. However, introverted owners with high negative emotions rated their dogs as more anxious and less responsive to training.
Owners who rated themselves as acceptable rated their dogs as less anxious and less aggressive to animals and humans.
The people who felt so satisfied with their dogs and their relationships reported energetic and excited dogs. Also, dogs who were most reacting and responsive to training.
So, anxiety and aggression didn’t concern as much in having a satisfying relationship, Chopik stated.
“There are a lot of things we can do with dogs that we can’t do with people,” he stated. “Exposure to obedience classes was associated with more positive personality traits across the dog’s lifespan. This gives us exciting opportunities to examine why personality changes in all sorts of animals.”
Chopik’s results gave proof of how much power people have over affected a dog’s personality. Many reasons for the changes in the dog’s personality are because of the “nature versus nurture” theory related to humans’ personalities.
Next, Chopik’s research will investigate how the owners’ environments provided to their dogs may change the dogs’ personalities.