Friday, October 17, 2008

Does the Owner's Personality Affect the Dog's Behavior?

I just sent the following e-mail. I think it's pretty self-explanatory.

"This is a reply to '10 life-threatening behavior myths' in the September 2008 issue of your Veterinary Medicine magizine.
In that article, Valarie Tynes refers to the belief that 'crazy owners have crazy pets' is a myth, citing two articles to show that owner personality does not influence pet behavior problems.
I looked up those two articles cited. One of them, written by Voith et al in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science in 1992, was not in fact a study of owner personality, but of anthropomorphising or 'spoiling' behaviors towards dogs such as feeding them treats, letting them on furniture or your bed, etc. While such behavior may be correlated with owner personality, such a correlation was not studied in this article.
The other one, written by Dodman et al in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1996, did study owner's personality, as measured by Myers-Briggs typology, but only studied dominance aggression. Evidently, dominance aggression is not related to owner's personality, but that does not mean other behavior problems aren't.
Therefore, Valarie Tynes does not appear to have sufficient evidence to make such an overarching claim regarding the presence or absence of a correlation between owner personality and behavior problems."



Blogger Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

The latter study is also only one study. Researchers would have to duplicate the results several times, throughout several studies--including large-scale studies, and studies that approach the question from several different angles, or with different research strategies, and controlling for different factors--before researchers could really say with any signifcant confidence that aggression-domination is not related to owner personality.

Now possibly there are more studies out there that do help corroborate the point the author is making. Sometimes an author will point to just one or two studies that make most of the point they want to make, and skip over other studies or journal articles that could make a similar point to save on space. But if so, they should usually be choosing the strongest, best done studies that are most closely relevant to their argument.

9:03 AM  

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