It turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks—well, kind of. Apparently, your dog might be morphing into a (furrier) version of you.
That’s according to a new study from Michigan State University and published in the Journal of Research in Personality. It found that not only does your dog’s personality change naturally as she gets older, but different human characteristics also have an effect.
To conduct the study, researchers pooled from a sample of 1,681 dogs (So. Many. Dogs.) and their owners. The dogs ranged in age from one-and-a-half weeks to 16 years and included 50 different breeds. The owners were also asked to take their own personality survey.
The initial findings? Pretty unsurprising: Puppies and senior dogs act differently. Trained and untrained dogs act differently. Dog-obsessed folks already know this. The real crux of the study, though, is that a dog owner’s personality had a marked effect on how their dog behaved. So yes, taking your furry friend to puppy school will probably lead to a more active, excitable and obedient pet, but just hanging out with you will do great things for his personality, too.
William Chopik, Ph.D., the lead author of the study, explained to PsyPost that extroverted owners “tended to have dogs that were more active/excitable, while owners high in agreeableness, conscientiousness, and open-mindedness tended to have dogs that were less fearful, more active/excitable, and less aggressive toward people and animals.” The dogs of neurotic owners were fearful and less responsive to training.
Despite the findings, Chopik believes there’s a lot more to learn about our pets. “We only compared dogs of different ages rather than how their personalities change from before to after a life event (e.g., being adopted).”