Image Credit: Claudia Bensimoun
Everyone gravitates to people-friendly dogs. But introduce another unfriendly dog into the mix and your once friendly dog morphs into an aggressive Cujo, ready to attack the unknown canine, no matter how friendly the dog. What is canine personality? Personality is the unique pattern of traits that characterizes an individual or our furry best friends. Can we bring together the fields of human psychology and animal behavior to understand what makes us bond with our dogs? Why do we love our dogs the way we do?
Dog personality research has been motivated in part, by a few practical concerns. Firstly, there is a widespread interest from many potential dog parents in selecting dogs with personality traits that suit their lifestyles. Secondly, animal shelters and other agencies use personality traits to improve their adoption rates, and to direct care to the dogs with the most behavioral problems. Personality consistency in dogs plays an important role in human-dog relationships. Thirdly many shelters focus on reducing the incidence of injuries that are caused by dog bites and have an interest in identifying dogs that have the most suitable personalities for successful job performance.
There has been a great deal of research done on the temporal consistency of dog personality. Scientists have used meta-analytic methods to quantitatively sum up all the factors that influence dog personality, as well as consistency in personality. They also expected to find that dog personality would be consistent over time, but the absolute level of consistency could vary depending on the personality dimension being tested. They also determined that personality would likely be more consistent when dogs were tested as adults, when dogs that were already in working dog programs were tested, when behavioral ratings were exercised, when aggregate measures were used, shorter test intervals used, and also when the same test was administered across test sessions.
Text & Images Copyright © 2013 By Claudia Bensimoun