A Swedish Study Shows that Dogs Can Mirror Their Owner’s Stress

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Swedish researchers found that dog owners who are going through stressful periods pass that stress onto their dogs.  The study finds that dogs aren’t oblivious to their owner’s anxiety level, but actually mirror the amount of stress owners are going through.  The study measured the concentration levels of cortisol, a chemical that’s released into blood and causes hair growth to “rest” during stressful times.  They found that the cortisol levels found in dogs were very similar to the levels found in their dog owners.  Regardless of the season, cortisol levels were always similar, indicating that there is strong synchronicity between dogs and their owners.

Traditionally dogs are welcome as loving pets that help their owners relax, exercise, and brighten up owners’ overall mental and physical being. Its evident more than ever that this bond works both ways, and when an owner is stressed out, the dog also stresses out.  It is not fully known why human influence their dogs stress level but one hypothesis speculates that we play a big central part in a dog’s life, often being the single key contact of love and communication for the dog, while we human have a much broader social network.  Thus, when we feel stressed out, the dog does too.  This comes as no surprise to many animal behavior specialists since dogs tend to have incredibly strong and close bonds with their human companions.

So, should you even consider getting a dog?  Absolutely!  They are still a wonderful companion that will love and care for you, and make your life that much sunnier.  Empirical research now shows that it is important for you to avoid stressful situations, and when this is unavoidable, find great things to do to counter that stressful situation.  Check out our FAQs and read the many suggestions we have that can help you and your best friend relax!

This scientific report  can be found here:  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-43851-x