Recently, a study was conducted that found that cats absorb the personalities of their owners. Humans who are neurotic, lazy or angry tend to have cats that echo these same traits. And now, it’s been discovered that dogs also pick up character traits from their human friends.
This new study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, is the largest one to be conducted on dogs, collecting data from over 1,600 animals of over 50 different breeds. It looked into the dog’s history, relationship with owner, and also tried to find correlations between important life events and changes in behavior.
“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,” says William Chopnik, lead author of the study. “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.”
Among the most interesting discoveries made by the study is the fact that dogs’ personalities tend to follow that of their owners. For example, if you’re an active and outgoing person, your dog will most likely act and behave like you. If you’re anxious and shy, your dog will also model your behavior.
These personality traits are important because they also influence your dog’s behavior and abilities to perform tricks and follow commands. Anxious and fussy dogs have a harder time learning and adapting to new behaviors, while relaxed dogs are more open and receptive to positive change.
The next time your dog pees on the rug or does something dumb, think about why it did that. Maybe you’re passing down your character traits or maybe your dog is just really annoying. Odds are, your dog is too old to get over this bad habit and you’ll just have to live knowing that it’s all your fault.