A human-dog relationship is one of the most interesting and wonderful bonds that can be developed; it even goes beyond skin- and fur-deep. A recent study shows dogs tend to become more like their owners on how they act and behave including the good and bad traits.
If you (or other people around you) have a dog, may have observed that your dog has somehow resembled you in one way or another. At some point, your pooch tends to look like your canine-version and vice versa.
You may also think that your personality traits have been transferred to your pet. Science says you are not just imagining things as one study tested the emotional transference between a human-dog relationship.
Study on Humans’ and Dogs’ Stress Levels
University of Vienna researchers assembled 132 participants with their dogs to observe whether or not pets actually adapt the personality traits of their owners. To test their stress levels, the humans and the pooches are brought to separate rooms.
The owners answered surveys for their pets with dog-related questions. A written questionnaire about the Big Five personality traits (agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness to experience) were also filled in by the respondents.
Meanwhile, their dogs were observed on how they react to challenging tasks which include balancing on a wobbly surface and more. To see the results, the pet’s saliva samples are taken for stress hormone cortisol while their heart readings are also noted.
Indeed, the results of the study, published in journal PLOS One, revealed an owner’s disposition will affect their pet. If an owner is neurotic, their pet will most likely be an anxious and aggressive one. Meanwhile, those owners who are more relaxed have pets that are friendly.
This phenomenon called “emotional contagion” happens when a person’s emotions and behavior trigger other people’s emotions and behavior similarly. Since this is proven to happen in a human-dog relationship, it only shows our influence to our pets are so deep and powerful that we can actually transform them.
Why Dogs ‘Mirror’ Their Humans
This does not really come as a surprise since dogs have been with us humans for over 30,000 years already that it is inevitable for these two kinds to have such deep connection with each other. Still, having scientific data to back this phenomenon is essential in letting us be more mindful in understanding how our pets behave.
Dogs are very sympathetic and observant animals that they can read their owner’s emotions and react to it, according to the study’s lead author Iris Schoberl. When they sense their owner is pessimistic, they would think there is danger lurking around making them anxious too. Therefore, when they are behaving badly, we should assess ourselves first before we point our fingers at them.
Our pets look up to us for everything, and as the bigger person, we should be attentive of our actions as they can directly affect our pets. The human-dog relationship is, indeed, a deep bond shared both ways between the owner and the pet.