A study on people’s dog preferences has disproved some of the assumptions we make about people who own dogs perceived as aggressive breeds, but also suggest that their observations confirm the accepted wisdom that dogs match the personality of their owners.
If that is true then what does that indicate about you, if you’ve got an anxious dog?
In the study carried out at the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology, partakers indicated their preference for different types of dogs, and filled in personality tests. The study concluded that disagreeable young people are likely to prefer aggressive dog breeds.
The study went on to say that analysts found that low agreeableness, (defined as being less concerned with the needs of others, quicker to become antagonistic, suspicious, unfriendly and competitive) was the best predictor of a leaning towards those dogs perceived as more aggressive.
Interestingly the study did not find a linkage between liking an aggressive dog and delinquent behavior; neither did it indicate that liking an aggressive dog was an act of status display.
Assumptions About Aggressive Dog Owners Aren’t Always Accurate
Doctor Vincent Egan, lead analyst on the study, said:
“This type of study is crucial, as it shows assumptions are not the entire picture. It is thought owners of aggressive dogs (or dogs understood as assertive) are delinquent show-offs. But we did not find persons who expressed an inclination towards aggressive dogs had committed more delinquent acts, or reported showing off more.”
Great news, but…
While this research is good news because it breaks thru unhelpful beliefs and makes us stop and rethink our views on certain dog breeds or their owners, it reinforces another presumption which is not so useful, that dogs match the personality of their owners.
In my own experience of having an anxious dog, I’m certain that he came into a really positive household, but that did not in itself help him get over his anxiousness, it was the way in which we behaved towards him that made the difference.
So if you are an anxious person naturally it does not necessarily follow that your dog will also become anxious. The key here is to realise how you must behave toward your dog and do it consistently.
Dog’s do need us to give out positive messages about their position in the pack so they don’t begin to get anxious. They also have to clearly understand that their position isn’t as pack leader, that’s yours, but we can learn to do that whatever our character type.
Typecasting either dogs or people will never be beneficial, infact it’ll only keep us stuck. Everybody can be both negative and positive at different times in our lives, but that should never dictate whether we are really capable of helping our dogs get over their anxiety or not.
The Author learnt about dog anxiety the hard way with her rescue dog Sherlock and has been researching the effects of anxiety and the best way to reduce it for the last 2 years. You’ll get lots more useful information about anxious dogs if you click on the link, plus free video training from a world renowned dog training expert, only available here.