Science Says Your Personality Could Impact How Well Your Dog Is Able to Be Trained

Extroverted owners' canines became less fearful when compared to pets with introverted parents, according to a new study.

Pets adopt certain habits over time, and whether they develop a love for a specific toy or an affinity for cuddling up for a nap after a long walk, some of your beloved pup's behaviors might actually be influenced by your own personality traits. According to NBC News, some important behaviors learned by dogs in the training process can be directly connected to the pet's owner. A new study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science explained that a pet owner's personality—specifically, whether they're introverted or extroverted—can influence everything from how often their dog barks to the pup's levels of fear.

woman playing with dog in park daytime
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PennVet researchers came to this conclusion after studying 131 dogs and their respective owners for six months during a veterinary behavioral program. To begin this process, each pet parent completed a personality questionnaire for themselves—featuring topics like agreeableness, neuroticism, and sociability—and a behavior assessment on behalf of their canine. The owners also filled out the dog's questionnaire—which included topics like aggression, separation anxiety, and energy levels—at the three-month point in the program and again at six months. In the end, 75 dog-owner pairs completed the research and the team found that a dog's age, sex, and size impacted their success in this therapy program. Specifically, big dogs improved their aggression habits better than smaller breeds. Lauren Powell, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and the lead study author, believes this is because owners tend to larger dogs' behaviors more due to their safety risk.

Plus, a sociable owner could help tend more to their dogs' needs. "Extroverted owners were more likely to see improvements in dogs' fearful behaviors and introverted owners less so," Powell explained. "Introverted owners may find it tough to leave their dog or give it space if it is required as part of the dog's treatment."

Dr. Katherine Houpt, an emeritus professor of animal behavior medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, added that it's important to catch your pet's negative behaviors early in training before they become problems. "When the dog is outside in the yard, he barks at everyone who goes by," she said. "He learns that people go away—because they are going away anyway—when he barks. And he becomes more and more confident of his ability to make things he doesn't like go away by barking."

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