My Dog, My Twin!
We've all seen those stories about people and dogs that look alike, but did you know that we often share personality traits as well? How does that happen; do we pick out dogs that are like us or do we (dogs and people) change to be more like each other?
Two recent studies seem to indicate the answer is both! People tend to choose dogs that are similar in personality; a laid back person tends to look for a laid back dog. A runner tends to gravitate towards a more active dog. However, some of us adopt from places like PetFinder and don't even meet the dog first. How is it that dogs and people that have never met still end up being so similar?
It turns out dogs are so perceptive that they actually model their behavior after ours. If we are laid back couch potatoes, our dog gets into TV binging on the weekend too. If our lives are stressful and filled with anxiety, we transfer that stress to our dogs.
In studies about our personalities, it didn't seem to matter the breed of dog; most still tended to mold their personalities to the humans they spend the most time with.
There were a number of other interesting findings from the studies. For example, they found that dogs, just like people, are harder to train when they're older. We're all still "trainable," of course, but just not as inclined.
Dogs often physically resemble their people. Check out these lookalikes.
Both people and dogs can shape their personalities situationally. So if we are with Grandma, we may be more quiet and calm than when we are with our besties.
Dogs that don't spend a lot of time with their humans can morph into being antisocial or depressed.
Research also showed that both dogs' and people's personalities moderated as they got older. Many are more relaxed and laid back as they age.
One personality trait they found that didn't change much with aging was dogs that are fearful and anxious. Most of them kept those traits for the rest of their lives.
They also found that some dogs with issues, housebreaking problems, barking, and destructive behavior often live in homes with higher stress levels. And while it seems more common for dogs to acquire our personality traits, we know that canines can affect our moods too (as every person with an emotional therapy dog will tell you). Our personalities are contagious!
Dogs are far more complex creatures and intelligent than we may have thought. The takeaway in all this is that our bond with our pets is more profound and stronger than ever, and the more time we spend hanging out, the better for everyone involved.