A recent study on dog preference disproved some of the long held assumptions we have about owners of aggressive dogs, but went on to suggest their findings also confirm the conventional wisdom that dogs match the personality of their owners. But if that is true, what does it say about owners who have anxious dogs?
In the study carried out at the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology, participants indicated their preference for different types of dogs, and filled in personality tests. The study concluded that disagreeable young people are more likely to prefer aggressive dog breeds.
The study went on to say that researchers found that low agreeableness, (defined as being less concerned with the needs of others, quicker to become hostile, suspicious, unfriendly and competitive) was the best predictor of a preference for those dogs perceived as more aggressive.
Interestingly the study did not find a link between liking an aggressive dog and delinquent behaviour; neither did it show that liking an aggressive dog was an act of status display.
Unhelpful Assumptions About Anxious Dogs
While this research is good news because it breaks through unhelpful assumptions that force us to reconsider our views on certain dog breeds or their owners, at the same time it reinforces another unhelpful assumption, that dogs match the personality of their owners.
In my own experience of having an anxious dog, I know that he came into a very positive household, but that didn’t help him get over his anxiety and I don’t think that believing he reflected our personality would help me sort out the problem either.
Equally, if you have an anxious kind of personality, believing that your dog just reflects you could take away any hope that you can change the way they behave. That’s not helpful either. If you’d like to find out more about dealing with dog anxiety this article will help.
Assumptions About Aggressive Dog Owners Are Not Always Right
Dr Vincent Egan, lead researcher on the study, said:
“This type of study is important, as it shows assumptions are not the whole picture. It is assumed owners of aggressive dogs (or dogs perceived as aggressive) are antisocial show-offs. But we did not find persons who expressed a preference for aggressive dogs had committed more delinquent acts, or reported showing off more.” For more details on the study click here.
Typecasting People and Dogs
Typecasting either dogs or people will never be helpful when we need to make change, it will only keep us stuck. We can all be both negative and positive at different times in our lives, but that should never dictate whether we are capable of helping our dogs get over their anxiety or not. True, you will need to take some positive action, but our dog anxiety training programme will show you how to do that, whatever your personality type!
Tell me what you think? Does your dog match your personality? Leave a comment below and tell me if you believe this bit of ’conventional wisdom’ is true.