Research Suggests Dogs’ Personalities May Change With Life Events

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
New research published in the Journal of Research in Personality suggests that a dog’s personality isn’t always the same, and much like their human best friends, can change during their lives based on various life events.

In a study of over 1,600 dogs of 50 different breeds, researchers concluded that a dog’s personality isn’t necessarily the same their entire life, and is capable of changing due to life events shaping them.

William Chopik is the lead author of the study and said that just as humans who go through big life changes often have personality traits change, so do our canine companions. Actually, Chopik says it’s quite a common phenomenon.

Related: Research Suggests Your Pup’s Personality Is Part Of His Doggy DNA

Chopik said that in their research, they expected that the dogs’ personalities would most likely be relatively stable through life because they don’t have such tremendous variation in lifestyle changes that humans do. They found that not to be the case, though, and that dogs were more similar in their personality changes as the result of life events to their humans.

In their work, they found that older animals did seem to be harder to train because they were more set in their ways, but they also found that dogs’ personalities tended to follow along with those of their owners, particularly when changes occurred.

Based on the surveys of the pet parents and observation, it seemed that dogs who were active and outgoing were often pets of humans who were also considered to be outgoing and active individuals. Alternately, the researchers found that pets who had hostile or anxiety-ridden owners seemed to have many of those more negative qualities as well.

Related: Purrfect Match: Study Reveals Cats and Their Owners Share Personality Traits

The easiest pets to train were the ones who were more happy and excitable, while anxious or fearful animals did not respond to commands or directions as easily.

Chopik believes the research is important so that we can look more closely with personality traits and changes in many different animals. As well, they found that dogs who had obedience classes seemed to have more positive personality traits that spanned the dog’s entire life, and so a case for basic obedience training could be made even stronger.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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