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Think Twice As Your Stress Levels Can Affect Your Dogs—Study

Canines are most likely to be stressed out to the same extent as their owners are, new research has shown. They tend to mirror their owner’s behavior. A research team based out of Sweden measured cortisol levels in owners and their dogs by analyzing their hair samples. Cortisol is a stress hormone.

Ann Sundman from Linkoping University stated that the research found long-term levels of cortisol in dogs and their owners to be synchronized. Owners having low cortisol levels had dogs with corresponding low levels while highly stressed owners had dogs with correspondingly high levels. She works in the University’s PCB department.

Samples from over 33 Shetland dogs and 25 Collies were taken by Sundman’s team for the purposes of the study. All the owners were women. Questionnaires were also completed by owners, detailing personalities of their dogs along with their own. Activity levels of the dogs were also factored in, as this has been shown to cause heightened levels of cortisol in them.

The results showed no effect of the tested dog’s personality on stress levels in the long run. However, the personalities of the owners were shown to affect their pet’s anxiety levels strongly.

Researchers have hypothesized that dogs mirror the stress levels of their owners, increasing in response to their owners’ levels. They intend to study and analyze other dog breeds as well, to find out if other breeds display this behavior as well.

Lina Roth from the university stated that learning more about the reactions of different dog breeds to humans would allow matching owners and dogs in a better way that optimizes stress management. It certainly is possible that some breeds may not be affected by their owner’s stress levels.

The report had been published on June 6. The publication was in Scientific Reports, a reputed journal.