Posted 3 months ago ago
Words by Corrie David and Rachel Mainwaring
who has a dog knows what the draw of a particular one is like - whether you found your pet through a breeder or at a shelter, ours stood out to us as individuals.
We have a small idea of their personality, but did you know that our pups actually shape their own personalities around ours?
Evolution has domesticated dogs to live safely and happily with us, but it has also meant they now develop their behaviours to suit existing alongside us.
Some of these behaviours are more obvious than others, and some we believe exist because of the dog’s individual characteristics, rather than our own.
Have you noticed any of these in your dog?
They get hungry when we do
Most of us tend to feed our dogs at the same time as we feed ourselves - in my case it means my dog isn’t sat waiting for scraps of my food if he’s busy eating his own.
While dogs don’t have any sense of time, they do learn routine and if you stick to certain routines, such as feeding them when you have your breakfast and while you are cooking your dinner.
From this routine they will be able to associate movements and smells telling them it’s breakfast time or dinner time, therefore making them hungry and ready to expect food.
They form their sleeping routine around ours
Dogs will always sleep more than their owners, particularly during the day if we’re away working or running errands.
However, regardless of whether they sleep in our beds, on our floors, or in their own space, they factor in our routine.
This means if you’re an early riser then your dog will be too, and if you’re keeping them up past their normal bedtime then you’re not going to be their favourite human.
They might talk like you
This isn’t to say if you have a northern accent, then your dog’s bark will have the same twang, but some pooches will learn to vocalise back to owners who speak to them.
Dog behaviourist Russell Harstein said: “Some vocal breeds will howl and bark when a parent howls or is rowdy. The dog will also be more inclined to howl or become more verbal.
“If that behaviour of vocalising is reinforced (by laughing, petting, smiling or given a high-value reward of any kind), the dog will continue to offer those behaviours."
That means if you are an owner who likes to talk with their dog, and you react positively to them joining in, it may be a behaviour they learn.
They may look like you
Science has already proven that our dogs can look similar to us.
A 2004 study published in Psychological Science found random people were able to link photos of dogs and their owners from their physical appearance.
That’s not to say if you have a pug then you have a squished, wrinkled face, but a study from 2015 identified similarities between eyes and hair length.
Their fitness correlates with ours
Naturally, those of us who are avid walkers will bring our dogs with us, giving them an increased need and desire for walks.
However, if you stick to the recommended walk length and spend your free time having a cuppa with your dog, then your dog will adapt to that routine too.
This means if you suddenly become bed-bound after walking 10km a day, your dog won’t be able to understand why their walks are shorter and could become frustrated.
Similarly, if you normally take your dog for a quick walk around the block, then decide on a three hour hike, they’re more likely to struggle and tire quicker.
They may share your mood
We all know our dogs know how we are feeling. If we raise the pitch of our voice, even if the dog doesn’t understand what is being said, they will get excited with you.
Then, if you’re under the weather and need to rest and sleep, your dog will probably sleep alongside you too.
This is down to science and something known as “emotional contagion.” This is the phenomenon of shared emotions between social species when living in close proximity to one another.
This is why nervous dog owners can cause their dogs to act nervous or anxious too. Similarly, if the owner is confident and friendly, the dog is more likely to appear that way too.
They can mirror your personality
Along with sensing mood, researchers from Michigan State University also discover that dogs can take on similar personality traits to their owner.
Their study showed that dogs, similarly to humans, have personalities which shape as they age.
“When humans go through big changes in life, their personality traits can change. We found that this also happens with dogs – and to a surprisingly large degree,” said study lead author Professor William Chopik.
“We expected the dogs’ personalities to be fairly stable because they don’t have wild lifestyle changes humans do, but they actually change a lot.
“We uncovered similarities to their owners, the optimal time for training and even a time in their lives that they can get more aggressive toward other animals.”