Dogs learning new tricks 'depends on owner's personality' 

Different dog owner personalities can predict how well a dog responds to treatment for behavioural problems, according to a new study. 

After studying dogs and their owners during a six-month training period, US experts found owner personality and owner-dog attachment influence treatment outcomes. 

Dogs with conscientious owners were found to be less likely to change their bad behaviours over time, they found. 

Meanwhile, extroverted owners reduced their pet's 'nonsocial fear' – their wary responses to sudden or loud noises and unfamiliar situations – and a sensitivity to being touched.  

Dog-directed fear – fearful or wary responses when approached directly by unfamiliar dogs – reduced over time when their owners were open to experiences. 

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Age, sex and size are factors already known to predict how well a pet may respond to clinical intervention.

But this new study provides evidence on the importance of owner personalities and the kind of bond that a human and animal share.  

It could help veterinarians provide better diagnoses and guidance in the future, according to the US experts.  

Dog demographics and owner personality influence how well a pet responds to treatment, helping veterinarians provide better diagnoses and guidance in the future

Dog demographics and owner personality influence how well a pet responds to treatment, helping veterinarians provide better diagnoses and guidance in the future

'These findings could be used by veterinarians to formulate more accurate prognoses and provide owners with targeted advice to reduce the influence of background factors on the dog’s response to clinical behavioural intervention,' say the researchers, from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine (PennVet).  

'Behaviour change following veterinary intervention was associated with canine demographic characteristics, owner personality and owner-dog attachment.

'Owners could implement behavioural modification techniques and better manage their dog's behavioural problems.' 

Previous research has consistently shown that poor canine behaviour is a leading cause of pet abandonment. 

An estimated 3.3 million dogs end up in animal shelters in the US each year, and about 670,000 are euthanised, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

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In the UK, hundreds of dogs bought as puppies during lockdown last year are being abandoned by owners who claim to not have the time or resources to look after them, it was also recently revealed. 

Identifying ways for dogs to respond positively to treatment is therefore helpful to give dogs a stable life.  

For their study, the PennVet team analysed the physiological and psychological characteristics of 131 pairs of dogs and their owners who attended a veterinary behavioural service over a six-month period. 

Results were based on a behavioural assessment questionnaire that was given at the beginning, middle and end of the research programme, along with other baseline assessments. 

Data collected included various types of aggressive behaviour,

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