Why do dogs like human owners

Do human personalities rub off on dogs?


The scientist points out the obvious challenges in such a study: you can ask people for a self-assessment, but when it comes to the behavior of the pet, you have to rely on the assessment of the owner. However, the pet owners do not seem to paint a distorted picture of their pet: Similar studies have shown that friends, strangers or dog sitters assess the personality of a dog just as much as its owner.

But why are there these similarities between dog and owner? In his current study, Chopik did not conduct any research into the causes, but he nevertheless has a hypothesis: “Partly it is due to the dog you choose and partly to how the dog is shaped by you,” he says.

According to Chopik, when people choose a dog, they tend to have animals that fit well with their own daily rhythms. “Do you want a boisterous dog that needs a lot of interaction, or do you want a relaxed dog for a relaxed lifestyle?” He gives as an example. "We tend to choose dogs that suit us."

Whether through conscious training or simply daily interactions, we then shape their behavior - and when we change, our dogs change with them. "If something changes in our life, it also affects the dog," he says.

Behavioral scientist Zazie Tood, who runs the Companion Animal Psychology website, points out that the five traits that are often used to assess human personalities are not one hundred percent the same as those for dogs. In humans, these are extraversion, tolerance, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness. In dogs, on the other hand, the personality is often linked to their aggression towards humans, aggression towards animals, fearfulness, excitability and willingness to react during training. "But there are some pretty exciting connections" between human and canine character traits, as she says. Often the features match each other.

“Even if you measure something in different ways, you can find correlations,” says Chopik. "That makes it more difficult to discover similarities, but we found them anyway."

For example, extraversion is a trait that cannot be properly transferred to an animal personality. Extraverts are usually very sociable and lively, so a very active and excitable dog would be a good parallel.

Future research may examine the two possible causes of such similarities - or, to put it another way, the question of the hen and the egg.

For example, open-minded, sociable people are more likely to choose a dog that doesn't appear anxious? Or is it more the case that your kind carries over to the dog over time? “Perhaps sociable people will go out with their dog more often so that the dog is better socialized and more accustomed,” says Todd. "It is possible that humans shape the personality of their dogs and that is the most exciting possibility for me."

The article was originally published in English on NationalGeographic.com.