Animal IQ

Dogs Often Take On Their Owners' Personalities

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We've long known that dogs and owners often look alike. We also know that dogs have bonded with humans for so long that they can both understand their owners and pick up on their emotions (to a certain degree). Well, a recent study takes this a step further. It shows that dogs also mirror their owners' personalities.

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Like Dog, Like Owner. Like Owner, Like Dog.

Jill is high-energy in social situations and so is her dog, Olive. While Jill is busy being the hostess with the mostest, Olive is right there with her, greeting each guest with a friendly bark and a wagging tail. On Jill's days off from work, you can find Olive and her relaxing in front of a Netflix marathon. Yes, it's precious that they're so much alike, but it's not actually a coincidence.

In the February 2017 study published in PLOS One, Austrian researchers found that dogs and their owners shared similar personality traits, including the Big Five: agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness. This was discovered by studying 132 dogs and their owners using behavioral tests and physical markers (including heart rates and cortisol levels). The results? Dogs' and owners' temperaments often influence each other. Calm and relaxed dog owners can spur similar traits in their dogs, and vice versa. Lead author Dr. Iris Schoberl, of the University of Vienna, tells the BBC, "Our results nicely fit to experience from practice: owners and dogs are social dyads [a group of two], and they influence each other's stress coping."

The Recipe For Chill

If your pup suffers from anxiety, the best thing you can do is lead by example. According to the BBC, Schoberl emphasizes that dogs are "sensitive to their owners' emotional states and may mirror their emotions." When Jill is stressed, Olive is probably stressed, and when Jill needs to relax by spending hours re-watching the entirety of "Lost" for the fifth time, Olive is right there, winding down with her.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Dogs tend to process verbal meanings through the left side of their brains. 01:52

  2. Dogs are the only non-primates who actively seek out and establish eye contact with humans. 03:49

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