If you feel that your dog is stressed out, then it may be affected by your anxiety.
Scientific Reports, a journal of the Nature Publishing Group, recently published a research report showing that the stress level of owners is likely to be synchronized with their pet dogs.
In addition to being “man’s best friend”, our pet dogs are very likely to reflect our human mental state on themselves, which sometimes damages their health.
The information is hidden in the hair
In total, Swedish researchers found 58 pet dogs—33 Shetland Sheepdogs and 25 Border Collies—and their owners were included. In the process of selecting these dogs, the researchers deliberately kept the proportions of factors such as gender, breed, and activeness of the samples basically balanced.
The study first assessed the personality traits of pet dogs and their owners through authoritative personality questionnaires. The dog’s questionnaires were filled out by their owners.
Researchers tracked and measured changes in the “stress hormone” hormone cortisol (hormone cortisol) in the hair of pet dogs and their owners for a year.
Cortisol is directly linked to psychological stress. Its content will increase when suffering from mental pain, but it will also temporarily increase in situations such as exercise and illness.
The detection of the cortisol content in the hair can effectively track changes in the stress level of the pet dog and its owner for a long time, because the hair will absorb circulating substances in the blood during the slow growth (about 1 cm/month).
Impact on pet dogs
The results of the study showed that by analyzing the data of this year, it was found that the cortisol level of pet dogs and their owners was highly correlated. Of all 58 pet dogs participating in the study, 57 were matched with their owners’ cortisol levels in summer and 55 pet dogs in winter. In other words, the rise and fall of the cortisol levels of these pet dogs are synchronized with their owners.
The liveliness of the pet dog and its personality traits will not affect this correlation, but the personality of its owner will affect it. Owners with higher stress levels will have relatively higher stress levels for their pet dogs.
In addition, the synchronization relationship between female dogs and their owners’ stress levels is closer than that of male dogs. Previous studies have shown that female dogs (and female mice and orangutans) are better at communicating emotions and feedback than male dogs.
There is also evidence that when the bitch’s oxytocin level (also known as the “hormone of love and closeness”) increases, the interaction and communication with the owner will increase, which will increase the owner’s oxytocin level accordingly. . Male dogs will not have this effect.
This study also has limitations. For example, it did not identify and analyze the reasons behind the stress of the owner. But according to the research results, no matter what the cause of stress is, our emotional response will have an impact on our dogs.
Our relationship with dogs
People have conducted countless discussions and studies on the concept of “human and dog relationship”, which is an extremely intimate connection. This connection can be traced back to 15,000 years ago, and it can be said to be unique in the animal world.
There is evidence that dogs have evolved with us humans, so they can feel the same emotions as us, and can build close relationships with us through eye contact.
Although this cross-species relationship is beneficial in many ways (especially for us humans), the intimate relationship between us and dogs can still have some negative effects.
Like many other animals, we humans and dogs have some diseases that can be transmitted to each other, such as super methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Q fever (Q Fever). In addition, the problem of dog biting is getting more and more attention in society.
We all know that people should provide pets with food and a home, and provide basic care for them, but we often neglect the spiritual life of pets, and this neglect will also have a negative impact on their well-being.
Help dogs deal with emotional problems
Dogs are sentient animals. They can feel both positive and negative emotions, such as happiness, comfort, fear, and anxiety.
If dogs often feel negative emotions like anxiety and are in a bad mental state for a long time, their well-being will be greatly reduced. If the stress level of the dog owner affects the pet dog, it means that we have a responsibility to protect their well-being from harm.
We all know that long-term stress is not good for humans and dogs. It will make us more likely to get sick and reduce our quality of life. If we can reduce our own stress level, then our dog’s stress will be reduced accordingly.
Try to reduce your stress level, even if it is not for yourself, but also for your dog. You can find ways to reduce stress through multiple channels, and the good news is that there are some stress-reducing activities like “Get Close to Nature”, you can also take your dog to do it.