Dog owners know that nothing is better for cheering you up when you’re having a bad day than your four-legged friend. Their judgement-free love and support keeps us going like nothing else. But a recent study finds that when dog owners feel stressed, their pooch may feel it too.
Researchers from Linköping University in Sweden studied how stress levels in dogs are affected by their owners. They followed a group of people who own border collies or Shetland sheepdogs and measured the levels of cortisol - a stress hormone - in both the dogs and their humans. It turns out, their levels are synced. Dog owners with high cortisol levels had dogs with high cortisol levels, so if the owner is stressed, the dog is feeling it as well.
This research could help scientists in the future to determine which dog breeds are a good match for people with high levels of stress. “If we learn more about how different types of dogs are influenced by humans, it will be possible to match dog and owner in a way that is better for both, from a stress-management point of view,” explains study author, Lina Roth. “It may be that certain breeds are not so deeply affected if their owner has a high stress level.”