My late cockapoo, Connor, always reacted to my moods, voice, and facial expressions. Because I knew this, I played with it. Before our morning stroll, I’d look at him with an enormous grin and say, “We’re going for a walky-walk!” — and he’d hurtle himself off the couch and run full speed to the door. Other times, I put music on and danced around the room, and he’d kind of dance along with me, putting his front paws on my thighs to reclaim me. When I forgot myself around him and got angry at something, shouting or frowning or gritting my teeth, he became so unnerved that he’d run to my wife for comfort.
I regret the latter moments, especially since recent research shows that dogs are acutely aware of their owners’ moods. Just how aware? The answer is shocking.
Do dogs model human behavior?
Research shows that dogs reflect and may be seriously affected by their owners’ attitudes and actions. In a 2021 study from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, investigators found that dogs with behavior problems that were enrolled in an intervention program were profoundly affected by their owners’ personalities and their degree of attachment to their owners, with both…