How Your Personality Can Affect Your Dog
Carefully choose a dog whose personality and energy level are a match for yours and/or your family’s.
When we adopt a puppy or an adult dog, we rarely consider if their personality is a match with our own. We fall in love with how cute they are, or their picture on the rescue site, or we just like the breed. When we are adopting a dog, we are often trying to adopt our new “best friend.” Just like people, dogs can be energetic, impulsive, silly, shy, fearful…..the list of personality traits are endless. And, just like in people, some personalities do not “mesh” as well as others do.
Playing the Match Game – Yours & Your Dog’s Personalities
When we match with the right dog, the relationship can be magical. If you are a couch potato and you find a dog who loves laying by your feet, you can both be at ease in your relationship. If you are a marathon runner and you find a dog that never seems to tire, your relationship can be blissful. If you adopt a dog who gets distracted easily or is impulsive, you must be a very patient person or your relationship will struggle.
As a dog trainer, mismatched dog- human relationships can be one of the most difficult things I encounter. When the dog and human are not on the same page, it will only work if the human is willing to make changes. If the human is willing to make the change, the dog will often change as well. For example, if a dog is impulsive and has a lot of energy, but the human does not want to spend the time needed to be patient and train the dog, the relationship will often be strained. Yet, if the person takes the time to teach the dog impulse control and provides the necessary mental and physical stimulation that the dog’s needs, the relationship can be fulfilling for both. Or if the dog learns behaviors quickly but the humans is inconsistent or impulsive, the dog can become frustrated, therefore creating a strain on the relationship. In this situation, I often must teach the human self-awareness, so they can recognize the mixed signals they may be giving to the dog.
YOUR STRESS LEVEL IS CONTAGIOUS
We also need to recognize that our stress levels can also affect our dogs. In my case, my dogs are pretty relaxed most of the time. One day I was on a stressful zoom call and my dogs became very agitated. I did not realize it in the moment, but later I realized that my stress was affecting them. Once I recognized this, I made adjustments to the environment when I had to be on the same type of call. I gave my dogs stuffed Kongs, diffused calming essential oils in the room, and tried to be aware of the stress I was feeling. Once I was aware of my stress, I was able to help myself as well as my dogs.
Whether you are thinking of getting a new dog or if you already live with a dog that exhibits behaviors you don’t like, it is important to take a look at your own personality and behavior to see how your personality may be affecting the relationship.