Study Finds Relationship Between Stress in Dogs and Their Owners

Dogs have long been faithful companions to humans. We have a long history together, but as both humans and canines have evolved and adapted to their environments together, the emotional aspects of our bonds and relationships have become more in sync with one another. Is it possible that stress in human owners can transfer to our beloved pets? Stress is a fact of life that people must deal with daily. Recently, stress levels in humans have been high because of the pandemic that has changed the way we live, interact, and socialize around the world. According to Science Daily, a Swedish study has shown that there is a link between the personality of a dog owner and the stress level of dogs based upon their breed. It’s different from one breed to another.

The relationship a dog has with its owner is related to its stress level. This is the conclusion of a newly published study from Linköping University, Sweden. The results, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also suggest that the link between stress and the owner’s personality traits differs between dog breeds. They also had the owners complete a questionnaire about their personalities. Researchers studied the hair of humans and dogs to measure the levels of stress over a several-month period. What they learned is that hunting dogs were affected by the relationship between them and their owners. Breeds that are considered to be more ancient were not as affected as those that are from more recent breeds. Herd dogs such as Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Heelers tend to mirror the long-term stress of their owners. This suggests that the relationship that a dog has with its owner for some breeds is significant as a determinant of the stress levels that the dogs will experience.

Pet owners need to be aware of their dog’s stressors

According to Consumer Affairs, dogs most often serve as a stress-reliever for humans. They help us work such as herd dogs, police dogs, guide dogs, or other highly trained canines, but what is it that we are giving them back in return? The relationship between a pet owner and their pet can become a source of unhealthy stress.

Compatibility issues

The findings of the study make us realize that it’s just as important to make sure that you are a good match for a certain dog as well as for the family. Certain personality types in humans can create a great deal of stress in certain breeds. In the interest of animal welfare, perhaps it’s just as important for the personality of the person adopting a new dog to be a good match for the pet. It’s essential that we understand the stress levels of dogs and how the dog-owner relationship impacts their mental health and overall well-being. When we shop for a new dog, we usually consider the size, breed, and personality that will best fit in with our situations, but have we stopped to think about what will work best for the dog? There are positives and negatives associated with pet ownership, but it’s a two-way street whether we acknowledge the fact or not.

Do our screening methods do enough to ensure proper adoptions?

Long-term stress is a real thing with dogs. Just as it impacts the overall health of humans, it also affects our beloved pets. According to Nature, all dogs are affected by the personalities and relationships with their owners, but some breeds more than others. Positive interactions are ideal, even when there is a degree of stress between the dog and its owners. How a person feels about his or her dog, how they treat their animals and the bonds they form will have a lot to do with the amount of long-term stress the dog experiences. Ultimately, the researchers learned that, regardless of the breed, the dog-owner relationship can impact dogs’ stress levels. The level of emotional attachment that owners feel towards their dogs, how often they positively interact with each other, and how owners feel about the cost associated with their pets can all positively or negatively affect dogs’ stress levels.

Your dog may mirror your stress

Dogs are more intuitive than we give them credit for in many cases. They can sense when we’re stressed and at times, they try to compensate by being close to us and giving us their full attention. Since dogs tend to mirror the stress of their owners, it’s a good practice to take time out from feeling overly emotional and show your pet some love and affection. It’s likely to be returned to you tenfold. Understanding how our moods and stress affect our pets can open up a new way to relate to them. They serve us faithfully and we owe them the same in return. If we’re grumpy and nervous around our dogs, they’re likely to react in ways that reflect the same emotions so perhaps we can all benefit by realizing that we have a synchronous relationship that needs a little extra attention.

Final thoughts

Most of us love our dogs and we only want what’s best for them. When we’re stressed out it does affect them. Just as most parents try to act cheerful and not take our stress out on our human children, we should perhaps do the same things for our fur babies. Our dogs may be mirroring our stress whether we realize it or not. We often resort to them as a source of healing and comfort but it’s important to realize that they also feel our stress and it can be as rough on them as it is on us. We must consider the emotional well-being of our beloved dogs and do what we can to avoid triggering their stress responses.

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