Dogs do have personalities and they change over time just like humans, a recent study has found. Furthermore, researchers found that a dog owner's personality plays a massive influence on a pet's overall temperament.
This was revealed in a paper published early February in the Journal of Research in Personality.
To arrive at their findings, researchers from Michigan State University studied over 1,600 dogs ranging in age and breed. They then had owners evaluate their dog's personalities then answer questions regarding their dog's behavioral history as well as their own personalities.
What researchers found was that dogs and their owners tend to share certain personality traits. People who rated themselves as extroverted reported their dogs being more excitable and active while owners with negative emotions reported their dogs to be more fearful and less responsive to training. Researchers further observed that dog's personalities tend to change over the years.
"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 in a statement.
"We expected the dogs' personalities to be fairly stable because they don't have wild lifestyle changes humans do, but they actually 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."
Furthermore, Chopik said dogs' personalities could actually predict important life outcomes. He noted that a canines' personality could ultimately influence how close they feel to their owners as well as whether they will display biting behavior or suffer chronic illness. These findings open the door for further research in the field and Chopik said he will next examine how a dog's environment changes the animal's behavior.
"Say you adopt a dog from a shelter. Some traits are likely tied to biology and resistant to change, but you then put it in a new environment where it's loved, walked and entertained often," he said. "The dog then might become a little more relaxed and sociable. Now that we know dogs' personalities can change, next we want to make strong connection to understand why dogs act – and change – the way they do."
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