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Why Your Dog’s Personality Is a Lot Like Yours

The thought that puppies look like their keepers really do have some value: Studies have shown that people manage to adopt puppies that share their physical features, in ways both clear and detailed. Overweight people are more inclined to have chubby puppies, for example, but even something as little as the form of the eyes can be a factor, in other words, to choose partners that remind us of ourselves.

And a new study shows that look isn’t the only thing we could have in common with our puppy pals. Animal behavior experts (and pet keepers, for that topic) have long recognized that dogs pull up what we’re putting downward — they can feel when things in their home are anxious, or when their people are troubled. But according to a research lately announced in the journal PLOS and advertised by the BBC, that sensation means that puppies often take on parts of our personalities.

The writers selected 132 dogs and their keepers, watching the stress of each one of the pairs using both behavioral analyses (noting how they responded to observed warnings in the lab) and physical tags (like heart speed and saliva samples to identify the stress hormone cortisol). Each of the keeper’s volunteers also charged out a questionnaire to estimate their levels of the main five personality characteristics — agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, and openness — and filled out a related survey about their pets’ characters.

The results: The more worried and upset the owner, the study found, the more possible the puppy was to share those same characteristics. On the other side, relaxed dogs were more fit to belong to more comfortable owners.

“Keepers and pups are social dyads [a combination of two], and they affect each other’s anxiety coping,” first author Iris Schoberl, an animal behavior expert at the University of Vienna, told the BBC. The research writers claimed that the human half of the duo was expected more influential than the puppy. In other words, we’re expected to pass on our own qualities to our puppies instead of taking theirs. Something to consider when you’re exercising your dog, or just trying to relax their resolutions: The best way to have a relaxed, comfortable-go-lucky pet may be to lead by model.

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