Does your dog stare off into the horizon wondering where the time has gone… like you?
One animal behaviorist has told Newsweek that a pet dog’s behavior and temperament can, in fact, be a direct reflection of its owner’s unique disposition.
Kait Hembree, based in Boston, Massachusetts, is the head of training at GoodPup, a dog training service that operates online, and has a wealth of experience in working with behavior modification both inside and outside of veterinary centers and animal rescue shelters. She broke down why our dogs catch on to parts of our personality and identity.
“Personalities evolve through genetics and environment which both influence learning; and the shaping of a dog’s personality one way or another. Depending on the particular environment a dog lives in, certain personality traits could end up mirroring their owner’s,” Hembree said.
“For example, an owner that is extremely active with interests in activities such as hiking, traveling, kayaking and so forth, and involves their dog in their adventures may have a dog with a highly outgoing, energetic and busy personality,” she said.
“However, a dog’s genetics are predetermined. Studies even show that emotions like fear can be transferred in the womb,” she added.
By this logic, even though a significant part of our dogs’ personalities are shaped by our own, their identity, unique and as part of a particular breed, does play a big part too. Hembree also said that dogs who were exposed to fear and anxiety in the womb could see this reflected in their personality, .
“Emotions like fear can manifest as personality traits of shyness and anti-socialness in dogs, or even as displays of aggressive signals. These personality traits, however, are in no way a reflection of their owner,” the animal behaviorist said.
If our dogs’ personalities are able to mirror our own then a dog being playful and energetic could reflect its owner’s fondness of socializing or taking part in outdoors activities. Conversely, a dog that enjoys snuggling up to you on the sofa all day could have a penchant for cuddles because it’s what it’s used to doing with its owner.
To the dismay but not surprise of many owners, it’s possible for our fur-children to also pick up on our feelings of stress and anxiety, and sometimes mirror our illnesses and ailments.
Despite these character overlaps, Hembree reiterated that it’s important people don’t forget the part that genetics play in the makeup of our dogs. The experienced behaviorist argued that the dogs who exhibit extreme behaviors are more likely to have inherited these traits from their breed or early childhood. Extreme behaviors should be soothed and settled, Hembree advised, with the help of a professional trainers.
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