Today many dogs have the good fortune to be born into a society that treats them like members of the family rather than working animals. With everything from dog-specific daycares, spas, to accessories and technologies, our fur-babies have many of the same opportunities that our human children do.
Despite this, millions of dogs are surrendered each year, many of which end up being euthanized. For a large number of these dogs, the reason for surrender is behaviour “problems” the owners could no longer deal with.
Right about now, dog lovers are probably thinking to themselves, “If the dog has problems, it probably has something to do with the owner”.
Researchers from Tufts University and University of Pennsylvania had a similar thought, which motivated them to launch a two-year project with the goal of reducing the number of surrenders caused by behaviour “problems”.
The underlying belief of this study is that a dog’s behaviour “problems” could be caused by the owner’s personality and psychological status. This idea really isn’t that far-fetched; one of the great things about dogs is their uncanny ability to recognize and respond to the emotions of humans. Unfortunately, if a dog’s owner has a volatile personality, it makes the dog vulnerable to developing these same personalities.
Over the course of the study, the researchers will look at the personality and emotions of the participant and ask them to share their perceptions of their dog’s behaviour. By doing this, researchers are hoping that they can draw conclusions about how an owner’s emotional state and personality may be impacting a dog and causing it to react in a certain way.
If we are to get a better idea about the relationship between owners and their dogs, we could use this information to better match dogs with owners. The better the match, the more likely the pair will be able to live a happy, conflict-free life together.
Unfortunately, the study does not have any concrete findings just yet; but this is where you can help. The research team is looking for more volunteers from around the world to help them reach their goal of 10,000 participants.
If you and your dog are interested in helping to reduce the number of dogs surrendered to shelters, signing up to participate in the study is easy. Once you complete the online registration, you will be asked to answer a 100-question survey every six months over the course of two years. As a participant, you will also have the opportunity to submit questions about your dog to the researchers with the goal of strengthening the bond you have with your fur-baby.
With your help, we can get to the bottom of how exactly an owners personality affects their dog.