When we bring puppies home, we can’t wait to see their little personalities take shape. As they grow, we come to understand them as unique and special, whether they’re fearless, friendly, cuddly, sensitive, smart, loyal, or shy. When I brought Juniper home, I couldn’t have predicted all the qualities that make her who she is. As she grew, I took note of her quirks, big and small — how she prefers gentle music like Norah Jones, enjoys an ear scratch more than a belly rub, is sensitive to people crying, and could sleep through her morning walk if I let her. Through the years, I’ve noticed changes, too; as a six year old, she prefers a good squirrel chase over the dog park, doesn’t like to eat her dinner unless I’m eating mine, and has finally come around to enjoying a dip in the ocean.
Apparently, I’m not alone in seeing my dog’s personality evolve with age. In a study by psychologists in the Journal of Research in Personality, dog owners were instructed to closely observe their four-legged friend’s personalities and behavioral histories throughout their lifespan. The research indicated that people seemed to notice their dog’s specific character traits take shape over time. And characteristics such as aggression, timidness, and anxiety were often contingent on the owner’s personality traits. This is not so surprising as we’ve seen, time and time again, just how attuned our furry canines are to our emotional state. But the study pointed out an interesting find: “When humans go through big changes in life, their personality traits can change. We found that this also happens with dogs—and to a surprisingly large degree,” stated William Chopik, lead psychologist and author of the study. While it’s been previously assumed that dogs personalities are somewhat fixed, Chopik proved that our furry friends actually grow into their personalities and may exhibit shifts in characteristics and quirks throughout their lives. Fascinating!
What do you think? Have you noticed your furry pal’s personalities change with age? We’d love to hear in the comments!