We’re all seen dogs that look like their owners, but our kinship with man’s best friend just got a little deeper.
It turns out that dogs can mirror their owners’ personality, according to research published in journal PLOS ONE.
More specifically, they pick up on their owner’s anxiety and negativity.
Researchers from Austria tested and observed 132 owners and their dogs. They asked the owners about their own, and their dog’s, personalities, and the owner about their social attitudes to their dog and towards other humans.
They filmed the dogs and their owners to observe their behaviour in one play session, and two threatening situations.
They also measured their heart rate, and tested their stress hormone cortisol through their saliva.
They found that owners and dogs influence each other’s stress levels and coping mechanisms, with owners being more influential than their dogs.
So the more anxious and neurotic a person, the more likely it is that their dog will be the same.
The study states:
Dogs are sensitive to their owners´ emotional states, and emotional contagion between owners and dogs is possible.
Thus, dogs may mirror the anxiety and negative expectations of neuroticistic owners.