Study: Dogs personas can change over time

Animals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Any dog owner knows their furry best friend has quite a unique personality. A new study shows that those personalities can change over time.

Researchers at Michigan State University say this information can help owners plan how to train their pets and even influence how close they feel to their owners, biting behavior and even chronic illness.

“Older dogs are much harder to train; we found that the ‘sweet spot’ for teaching a dog obedience is around the age of six, when it outgrows its excitable puppy stage but before its too set in its ways,” says lead author William Chopik, in a media release.

The study surveyed more than 1,600 dog owners, spanning 50 different breeds. The age also ranged from a few weeks to 15 years and was almost split evenly between males and females. Dog owners were asked questions about their pet’s personality and its behavior history.

The results show that dog’s personalities resemble their owners. Extroverted humans rated their dogs as more excitable and active, while owners high in negative emotions rated their dogs as more fearful, active and less responsive to training.

The study shows one trait that rarely changes over time was fear and anxiety. The owners who felt happiest about their relationships with their dogs reported active and excitable dogs, as well as dogs who were most responsive to training. Aggression and anxiety didn’t matter as much in having a happy relationship, Chopik said.

Next, researchers hope to examine how the environment could change the dogs’ behavior.

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