Study finds that dogs mimic the stress levels of their owners. So chill out

Do you think you have a close bond with your dog? If so, this is not a unique sentiment. Researchers have used the term ‘human-dog-dyad’ extensively over the years to describe humankind’s relationship with dogs, due to the way in which we have evolved together over 15,000 years.

As a consequence of this, dogs are said to be in tune with humans’ thoughts and emotions.

Photo: BarkPost

Ever think your dog is feeling the same way as you? Stressed when you’re stressed? Happy when you’re happy? That’s because they are.

New research published in Scientific Report has aligned with that concept, revealing that the stress levels of dogs may reflect the stress levels of people around them, as they mirror our feelings and personalities.

Researchers in Sweden undertook the study using 33 Shetland Sheepdogs and 25 border collies alongside their owners who filled out their pets’ Personality Questionnaires. Levels of the hormone cortisol, often found in hair, was monitored for a year to measure stress levels (the molecule becomes pronounced during times of mental stress).

57 of the 58 dogs in summer and 55 of the 58 dogs in winter showed direct correlation with their owners’ emotions, their stress levels rising and falling alongside them and overall, female dogs showed stronger connections with their owners’ levels compared to males.

Circumstances such as the amount of garden play the dogs had, the working hours of the dog’s owner and if the dog had a companion to play with showed no sign of effecting cortisol levels, only the owners’ personalities did.

So next time you think your dog may be stressing out, take a moment to look in the mirror. Maybe it’s you who needs to chill.