It turns out that our canine companions are ultimately not that different from us! After a recent study on canine behavior, we now have proof that our dogs really mature as they get older.
As dog parents we have always known that our dogs change over the years. While we can recognize the differences between our adult dogs and their puppies, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact changes. Thanks to this study, it is no longer a mystery!
To determine how our furry friends evolve over the years, Borbála Turcsán and his colleagues set out to study a group of 217 Border Collies. With each puppy aged 6 months to 15 years, they were able to collect a range of results depending on each canine age group. Four years later, the remaining dogs were invited to return to perform the same activities again.
This canine personality study wanted to delve into all aspects of problem solving and obedience that our dogs may experience throughout their lifetimes. To get the most accurate results possible, the team divided the study into 6 categories.
- Exploration test: The dogs were sent to a room to explore the area and various objects in the area, while the owner stood in the room, ignoring them.
- Frustration test: The experimenter hung a piece of sausage on a string in front of the dog’s face, just out of reach, for a minute.
- New object test: The dog was shown an auto-moving toy and allowed to interact with it for one minute.
- Ball game test: The dog’s parent threw a ball three times and allowed the dog to retrieve it.
- Obedience test: The dog’s parent gave the dog four commands (sit, lie down, stay and come) while the experimenter distracted the dog with noises.
- Problem solving test: The dog’s parent showed his dog how to remove the lid of a garbage can to get food out of it, and then the dog had a minute to remove the lid on his own and get the food.
By performing these tests on the same dogs 4 years apart, the experimenters were able to draw some conclusions based on canine personalities. While the more adventurous and curious dogs were always similar to their younger ones, their level of excitement dropped dramatically as they got older.
“Dogs that are active and curious when they are young will remain active and curious as they get older, but only compared to other dogs. A dog’s personality changes over time and, on average, each dog becomes less active and less curious as they get older. – Borbala Turcsán
Overall, the experimenters found that a dog’s problem-solving ability improves until the age of 6 and then remains stable. While their enthusiasm for novelty items doesn’t change much in the first 2 years, their enthusiasm for novelty wears off considerably after 3 years.
One thing that didn’t change, however, was a dog’s ability to deal with frustration. Although their problem-solving ability increased until the age of 6, their level of frustration remained the same as they got older. This was a bit surprising to the experts, as they believed their tolerance for frustration would decrease.
While this study delved into multiple aspects of canine behavior, one thing is certain all around. Our dogs grow older and their need for exercise decreases dramatically.
“Dogs become less active with age, and that should give people who have overly active puppies hope. And while they become less of a problem-solving and novel-seeking orientation as they age, they remain obedient and social, which is probably the most important thing for owners. – Dr. Katherine Houpt
While dog lovers already know that their favorite furry friends change over time, it’s nice to see a dedicated study proving it. We look forward to seeing future research on our beloved companions and hopefully understanding it better than ever!
H / T: nbcnews.com