Behavioral problems are the first cause of animal abandonment
We know that behavioral problems are already the first reason why dogs are abandoned, delivered to a shelter, or prematurely euthanized.
Understanding what genetic and environmental factors influence the behavior problems of our dogs can help us alleviate this tendency to abandonment, through prevention.
How do my emotions affect my dog?
Due to the close type of relationship we establish with our dog, it seems unlikely that our personality and emotional health do not affect their behavior.
emotional contagion exists
Your dog spends most of his time watching you and is totally dependent on you.
If a person who does not know you can perceive if you are nervous, happy or angry. Imagine how your dog perceives it.
Dogs have not only shown a great ability to understand our moods by observing our gestures, but they can also smell certain substances that we secrete. For example, they can smell the hormone cortisol that we produce when we are nervous.
But in addition to this, our dogs, as social animals that they are, have neurons in their brains, known as mirror neurons , responsible for synchrony and emotional contagion within the group.
I’ll give you an example, surely you’ve noticed that when your dog yawns, you immediately do it, or vice versa? Mirror neurons are to blame for this.
Science finds a relationship between certain behavior problems in dogs and the personality of the guardian
Although a greater number of studies are necessary, the first results are concluding that the choice of the canine training method is the key to behavioral problems in our dogs .
And this choice would be greatly influenced by the state of mental health and the personality of the tutor.
When the choice is an aversive and confrontational method, it ends up with our dogs behaving really badly.
How was the study done?
Through a questionnaire that evaluates:
- Guardian’s personality
- if you have depression
- Your ability to regulate emotions
- The use of chosen training methods
- dog behavior
The results show 6 recurrent problems when the dog is trained with punitive methods
These problems are:
- Aggression directed towards the owner (social conflict)
- Aggression directed at unknown people
- separation anxiety problems
- Chasing behavior (bikes, runners, children, etc…)
- persistent barking
- Changes in hygiene behavior (urinates and defecates at home when left alone)
What variables of my personality influence my dog?
- Emotional stability
Dogs with guardians who are unkind, emotionally unstable, or inconsistent may exhibit all three of the following behavior problems:
- Aggression to the owner
- fear of strangers
- Hygiene behavior disorders when home alone
Different in men than in women
The study has shown that men who feel depressed are more likely to train their dog with unkind methodologies. This enhances the appearance of the behavior problems described above.
Most behavior problems in dogs are a manifestation of their emotions
Dogs that show maladaptive behaviors, in most cases, do so as a result of emotional mismanagement.
Feeling unable to resolve a complex emotional situation, the dog looks for a strategy to get out of it that is not always the right one.
A good relationship with your dog also helps to solve their behavior problems
Dogs that have a good relationship with their guardian have been shown to trust their handler more, following their signals and help to solve a difficult task or situation for them. That is, you can help your dog to behave well and make good decisions.
Precisely, a very recent study has shown that dogs that have lived with the family for more than a year show more confidence and ask their handler for help sooner when faced with an unsolvable task.
The fact of living as a family and having a greater number of positive experiences with people also improves this trust and relationship.
Dodman, NH et al. 2018. Associations between owner personality and psychological status and the prevalence of canine behavior problems. PlOS one, 13(2), e0192846.
Topál, J. et al. 1997. Dog-human relationship affects problem solving behavior in the dog. Anthrozoos, 10(4), 214-224.