People experience everyday situations that shape their lives. Big life events and small habits all influence people’s personalities. Apparently, the same thing happens to dogs.
If you think your dog has always been lazy, outgoing, or friendly since you first got them, those personality traits could change as they age.
Findings from Michigan State University’s researchers showed that dogs can experience change even with their seemingly mundane, everyday routines through interactions and reactions to situations.
More importantly, research suggests that owners and their dogs tend to have similar personality traits.
“When humans go through big changes in life, their personality traits can change,” said William Chopnik in a statement. “We found that this also happens with dogs–and to a surprisingly large degree.”
Pinpointing Three Aspects That Change Dogs’ Personalities
Considered one of the largest studies ever to examine personality changes in dogs, the research tapped owners of over 1,600 pooches. Researchers rounded up dogs from 50 different breeds. Some of them were only a few weeks old, while others were up to 15 years old for a full age range.
Findings indicate that dogs’ personalities are especially affected by three aspects. These are age, changes in human owners’ personalities, and the quality of dogs’ relationships with their humans.
This study helps explain some changes in personality traits that dogs go through, like trainability for older dogs versus younger dogs who just reach obedience training age. The body and brain change as dogs age, so it makes sense that certain personality traits would, as well. The study found that the optimum trainable age for most dogs is around six years old.
Dogs also tend to reflect their owners’ personalities. So an outgoing owner, for example, tends to be more social, and their dog follows that lead. If an owner becomes less outgoing or social for some reason, their dog might show similar personality changes.
Also, the quality of human-dog relationships has a strong effect on canine personalities. An abusive or neglectful relationship between owner and dog, for instance, can lead to higher aggression, biting, and even chronic illness.
However, some personality traits tend to stay the same. Fear and anxiety tendencies, for example, rarely change according to the research. This backs up other informal studies that have examined generalized fear in dogs.
Dogs Might Already Have A Personality Depending On Breed
Dogs’ personalities are complicated. For starters, each breed already has specific tendencies and characteristics. A study from the University of Arizona found that some aspects of dogs’ personalities are in their DNA.
“Our findings suggest that there are certainly genetic influences on dog behavior, and dog owners are never working with a ‘blank slate.’” said research co-author Evan MacLean to Inverse.
This goes to show that your dog is already very special at the get-go.
That said, life events and routine habits also shape your dog’s personality. Everything you do with them makes an impact.
Just because your dog is a certain breed doesn’t guarantee they will turn out a certain way. Nature and nurture both have influence, so make sure you’re giving your dog plenty of nurture.
Do you agree with these findings? Have you noticed your dog’s personality has changed in any way? Let us know in the comments below!