According to a new study recently published in Scientific Reports, dog owners who suffer from high levels of stress could be unknowingly be passing this stress onto their furry friends, IFLScience.com reports.
Scientists from Linköping University in Sweden recruited 25 border collies and 33 Shetland sheepdogs, all of whom were owned by women, and tested the cortisol, or stress hormone, levels in their hair at two intervals, several months apart. The researchers also used a tracking collar to monitor the activity levels of the dogs in the weeks leading up to the cortisol testing to differentiate between competition dogs and regular pets.
“We found that the levels of long-term cortisol in the dog and its owner were synchronized, such that owners with high cortisol levels have dogs with high cortisol levels, while owners with low cortisol levels have dogs with low levels,” study author Ann-Sofie Sundman said.
The dog owners were also asked to complete two validated questionnaires to elaborate on their dogs’ personalities.
“Surprisingly enough, we found no major effect of the dog’s personality on long-term stress. The personality of the owner, on the other hand, had a strong effect. This has led us to suggest that the dog mirrors its owner’s street,” principal investigator Lina Roth said.
While the results of this study suggests the match between an owner and a dog affects the dog’s stress level, further studies are needed before any conclusions can be drawn regarding the cause of this correlation.