Do Dogs Take On The Personalities Of Their Owners?

Dogs looking like their owners has always been something of a well-known, light-hearted joke, although it is sometimes true. So too has the idea that that pets take on some of the personality traits of their owner. Therefore, it might come as something as a surprise to know that there is now scientific evidence that suggests that dogs can understand human emotions and mirror them!

It is pretty obvious that to fit in with a family, a dog must have characteristics that fit well with their humans. A chilled out, lazy dog may not be happy in a home where there are young children wanting to run around and play with him all the time. Equally, an active dog will probably be bored and restless in a quiet home.

Dogs have lived alongside humans for more than 30,000 years so it is only reasonable that they may have picked up on more than a few things about the way we live and the way that are feeling. And it is beginning to show.

Research now suggests that our own lifestyle, emotions and interactions with our dogs can impact on their personality. For example, if we are feeling particularly stressed or anxious we may seem distracted from giving our dog the attention that we usually do. We may act inconsistently, show different moods or become withdrawn, all of which could raise the stress and neuroticism levels in our dog as he struggles to understand our behavior.

A study published in February 2017 showed that Austrian researchers have found that dogs and their owners share similar personality traits across the Big 5 (from the model of personality theories):
- Agreeableness
- Neuroticism
- Extraversion
- Conscientiousness
- Openness

The study used behavioral tests and physical markers such as cortisol(stress) levels and heart rate, and determined that an owner and dog were able to influence one another’s temperaments. However, not only were they able to mimic each other’s emotions, but they were also able to identify the emotions and somewhat counter them – for example, stroking a calm dog can help to relax a stressed owner.

It is also commonly accepted that the longer we spend with our pets, the more we become attuned to their behavior and them to ours. Just as a dog can quickly begin to predict patterns in yours (and his!) daily routine, so too can he start to predict what types of mood you are likely to be in at certain times. For example, he may recognise that if you tend to pace when you are anxious, you may need space rather than him getting under your feet. Or when you sit in a certain chair of an evening, your canine companion knows that you are relaxing and would welcome his company.

Owning a dog can supremely enhance the quality of your life, and provide you with loyal companionship, affection and protection for many years. The fact that your pooch can positively influence your better personality traits and help temper your worse one only adds to the list of reasons why a dog really is man’s best friend.