Study Suggests Well-Behaved Dogs Have Less-Stressed Owners
A new study recently published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior suggests that there is a correlation between how dog owners believe their pets behavior and the owner’s stress levels, and that owners of well-behaved dogs tend to be happier.
The study took place in Mexico, where researchers compared 36 dog owners who said their pets had separation anxiety with 40 dog owners who said their dogs were well-behaved when they were apart. The researchers asked questions about separation-related behaviors like vocalization when the owner is gone or the destruction of things, as well as other signs of anxiety.
The answers showed that dogs who didn’t show separation-related behaviors were considered more ‘trainable’ and had been with their owners in their homes for longer than dogs who seemed to have separation-related behaviors.
The researchers believe that there is a negative effect from owners who have high-stress levels in that they may not respond well to dog’s misbehaviors, and this may cause dogs more stress and/or anxiety. It seemed the owners who had higher levels of stress didn’t have very relaxed relationships with their dogs, and this, in turn, may increase anxiety in the dogs. The dog’s negative behavior, as a result, could then be a source of stress for the owner, and that can obviously affect a perceived happiness in the owner.
Essentially, the researchers believe the negative cycle is a circle in which no one really wins. Lead author M.T. González-Ramírez said that the study is just a snapshot and shows no causality but that training a dog to be well-behaved may increase happiness in the dog’s owner because they won’t be so annoyed with small disturbances from the dog’s behaviors when separated.
González-Ramírez said that owners who work on improving the dog’s behaviors while gone may, in turn, end up bringing more happiness to themselves, and strengthen the bond between the dog and their owner. Owners who see themselves as stressed also tend to see the anxiety-behaviors in their dogs more and working on that could be beneficial for both dog and owner.