Dogs found to mirror owners' emotional states

Dogs can often mirror the emotional states of their owners, finds new research.

As a Daily Mail report states, "the study has found that dogs belonging to neurotic owners are less able to cope with stress, while relaxed people have more relaxed and friendly pets."

For the experiment, a team of European researchers assessed 132 owners and their dogs with questionnaires about their personalities and the owners' attitudes towards others. The pairs also had their saliva tested for cortisol which can indicate stress levels.

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Based on the data, the group identified the correlation between humans and their pets.

As one of the paper's authors, Dr. Iris Schoberl, told the BBC, "Our results nicely fit to experience from practice: owners and dogs are social dyads [a group of two], and they influence each other's stress coping."

The study calls this exchange "emotional contagion."

Dogs have been human companions for 30,000-plus years and have shown behavioral adaptability in previous research.

The team says in their paper that, "These findings underscore the importance of considering the human-dog dyad on a systemic level, i.e. including the social context in experimental science as well as in dog training and dog behavior therapy."