Dog and dog owner – Similar character?

22 Feb, 2022

Dog and dog owner – Similar character?

It is often said that a dog and dog owner look alike. But is it true? Many pet owners would balk at the idea that they resemble their pooch, but new research sheds like on the facts that show it may indeed be true. Pet owners around the world can relax though, often the learned behaviours only go one way.

Dog and dog owner – Do they develop similar characters?

dog and dog owner
Does your dog adopt your personality traits?

Do you and your dog have the same character? 

 A study by the University of Kwansei Gakuin, Japan, has established some new facts. It reports that the reason why human beings tend to resemble their pets the choice reflects our way of living. We often choose pets that we consider more in line with our personality or our physique and lifestyle.

This reasoning is called the “mere exposure effect”, or familiarity principle.

“We tend to choose the animal whose features are most similar to ours, even if we do not do so consciously”, explained Sahiko Nakajima, a Japanese psychologist in charge of the investigation.

The similarities can also be psychological

The study reveals that on many occasions, these similarities go far beyond the physical aspect. They also focus on psychological patterns.

An expert on animal behavior points out: “A nervous dog is usually chosen by someone the same; a restless one, by someone very active”. Thus, the factors that determine the selection of our pet usually depend not only on what we like, but on what we are like as well.

Going further, even our pet choice by itself can tell something about our character. For example, according to Nuwber, there are differences between cat people and dog people. And maybe you noticed that people who like fish tend to be more calm and relaxed?

Where does the emotional bond come from?

dog and dog owner
Some owners have intensely close relationships with their pets

The strong personal bond that unites us to our pet also has to do with clear compatibility and common life habits.

This is stated in a study by the University of Vienna, based on the study of 132 dogs together with their masters.

In this research a series of patterns were analyzed through different behavioral tests. The researchers subjected the dogs to different threats measuring changes in heart rate, and saliva to detect the presence of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Owners also had to fill out a survey to measure levels of the Big Five personality traits, according to the research team: agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness.

And in the same way, they completed a questionnaire about the personality that best matched their dog’s. Consequently, the results were a resounding success and were published in the journal.

And the results…

The researchers scientifically verified that the more anxious and neurotic the owner was, the more so the dog was, and the same was true in reverse.

Have you ever seen that some dogs look like their owners?

Have you been told that you and your best friend are very similar?

The most common explanation is that as owners we idealize our pets and imagine that they have the best of us.

What does science say about the dog and dog owner relationship?

As earlier, Sadahiko Nakajima, a psychologist at Japan’s Kwansei Gakuin University, has done extensive research in this area. Specifically the research relates to the belief that dogs resemble their owners. An experiment carried out in 2009 showed that participants were tasked to match dogs to their respective owners. They were asked to do this simply by seeing pictures of the faces.

And the results…

Evidence from his research demonstrates that this belief is empirically valid.

To answer why this phenomenon arises, Nakajima ran another experiment in which he showed a series of photographs to more than 500 people. The photos included random pairs of dogs and people. In some, he covered the owner’s eyes or mouth, in others the eyes of the dogs or muzzle. Participants were asked to select human-dog pairs that resembled physically each other. The results of the experiment were fascinating.

The applicants who were shown the photos without obstruction identified correctly the dog-owning pairs most of the time. When the mouths of the owners were hidden, the participants were correct 73% of the time. However, when the human’s or dogs’ eyes were obscured, the participants’ accuracy was largely down to chance: About 50% were correct.

Why do dogs look like their owners?

The results demonstrate that individuals make decisions about the similarity of the owner to the dog mainly by comparing characteristics of the eye region. But why do people look like their dogs? Nakajima said that one of the main reasons for the dog owner’s facial similarity is the so-called “simple exposure effect,” also known as “familiarity.”

dog and dog owner
Behaviour parallels enrich any familiarity between dog and owner

“Familiarity” is the psychological mechanism that prompts us to seek things that are familiar or similar to something with which we already feel comfortable.

We tend to associate with what looks like us because it conveys familiarity. Curious, right? So, it is very interesting to try the exercise with your dog.

Looking at a dog

Look at the dog’s features, its way of acting, the stimuli to which it responds, etc. It can be very beneficial and informative. You will be able to find out many things about yourself that you may never have noticed. And it is that, no matter how much you train it to be a calm dog, if you are a restless person yourself, you will never see improvements.

This explains why we are so willing to see the same movies again or why old songs are so popular. It’s the same with dogs, we choose our pets based on how much they remind us of ourselves. In most cases, if dogs resemble their owners, it is because we choose them according to our attributes. So, what do you think? Do you find your best friend to have the same character patterns as you do?

Choosing a dog

According to experts, we could choose our dog in the same way we choose our partner. And it is that we instinctively choose those who look like us to guarantee that there will be genetic compatibility. The thing is, this theory doesn’t just work for couples, but friends, co-workers, pets. it even works for cars!

It is not that dogs resemble their owners from the beginning, but that both adopt aspects and characteristics of the other.

Dog and dog owner learn to be like each other

Learned behaviours are common between dog and dog owner

In other words, the more time you spend with your furry friend, the more things you copy from each other. And it is that dogs, especially, perfectly capture our emotions without the need to communicate.

If you get nervous, they will too. In the long term, that transforms into a human with nervous tendencies next to a furry peer.

Michael Roy of the University of California at San Diego did another parallel study. He went to different dog parks and photographed humans and their dogs. He then asked random volunteers to match who lived with whom.

Most of them were correct, based on the similarities between the two: a muscular man with a pit bull, a woman with big ears with the big-eared dog, etc.

Indeed, the volunteers saw that the dogs resemble their owners. He studied the experiment and came to a clear conclusion that “dogs look like their happy owners”.

In conclusion – Our thoughts on a dog and dog owner’s personalities

But can this be applicable to every single person? Of course not, there’s an exception in every rule. Your pet might be the complete opposite of you, and you’ll still get along perfectly fine. But these comparisons are fun, and we encourage you to talk to your friends and family and ask if they see any similarities between you and your dog.

 

Further reading on dogs, dog sitting with Housesitmatch

At Housesitmatch.com we always try to share useful and informative blogs and practical advice with our members. Read on to find some helpful articles with useful tips for dog owners and dogsitters about dogsitting.

New dog owners – Here are the 8 must haves

Dogowner’s tips – In ground or wireless dog fence?

Top dogsitting tips for beginners

Dog sit – What is it and where can you go?

Dogsitters’ tips – Dog’s body language and how to read it

LamiaW

LamiaW

Founder and Director of HouseSitMatch - I'm a hands-on Admin on the site. Please ask any questions and as soon as I can I'll happily answer and assist where I can.

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