Stress in dogs is related to the human-dog relationship



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Stress in dogs is related to the human-dog relationship

Long-term stress in dogs is related to the human-dog relationship and personality traits, is a very interesting study published on the Scientific reports, which in its research tries to explain: "Previously, we found that dogs belonging to the herding breed group, selected for human cooperation, synchronize their long-term stress levels with their owners.

The aim of the current study was to investigate features that could influence long-term stress levels in ancient dog breeds, genetically closer to wolves, and dogs specifically selected to work independently of their owner.

Twenty-four ancient breed dogs and 18 solitary hunting dogs were recruited and hair samples were obtained from both dogs and owners from which hair cortisol concentration (HCC) was analyzed. Additionally, the owners completed lifestyle surveys, the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale (MDORS) on human-dog relationship, and both dog and owner personality questionnaires (Dog Personality questionnaire and Big Five Inventory survey).

The results from the MDORS indicate that the subscale Perceived cost correlated to the dog HCC of tested breed groups: solitary hunting breeds (χ2 = 4.95, P = 0.026, β = 0.055), ancient breeds (χ2 = 2.74, P = 0.098, β = 0.027), and herding dogs included from a previous study (χ2 = 6.82, P = 0.009, β = - 0.061).

The HCC of the solitary hunting dogs was also related to the owner personality traits Agreeableness (χ2 = 12.30, P <0.001, β = - 0.060) and Openness (χ2 = 9.56, P = 0.002, β = 0.048) suggesting a more substantial influence of the owner on the solitary hunting dog's HCC compared to the ancient breeds.

No effect of owner HCC on dog HCC was found in either ancient or in solitary hunting breeds. Hence, the long-term stress synchronization is likely to be a trait in breeds selected for human cooperation. In conclusion, dog HCC is often related to the owners' personality, but is primarily influenced by the owner-dog relationship.

The human–dog relationship may influence the HCC of the dog and especially the subscale for Perceived cost. Comparing the dog HCC between breed groups suggests that the ancient breed group is the least affected by the owner and their relationship together, the solitary hunting dogs show clear associations with both owner personality traits and their relationship, but only the herding dogs show interspecies long-term stress synchronisation.

These results suggest that the long-term stress synchronisation is influenced by the recent selection for human cooperation, but that the human–dog relationship and personality traits are important features affecting dog HCC."