The Unsuspecting Habits Your Dog Is Picking Up from You

If you’ve ever started to think your dog is acting like you and wondered whether you were just imagining it, you’ll be pleased to know it’s not all in your head: dogs can in fact pick up habits from their owners.

Dr Ben Schuster, resident pet expert at Budget Direct Pet Insurance, points out that numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of the human-canine bond, a relationship that can benefit both us and our animal companions.

“Dogs have now become a vital part of the human family and, as a result, many habits of our own have become adopted by our four-legged companions,” Dr Schuster says. “Essentially, they see their own human family members acting in a certain way and often attempt to mimic this behaviour to be a more involved part of the family.”

And while all that makes sense, there’s some science that backs it up, too. Dr Schuster explains that when dogs are mimicking human behaviour, their brains are progressively building new and stronger ‘neural pathways’, connections in the brain that allow them to think differently.

Image: Getty Images

“For example, a wild dog might not realise that stretching out on a couch can be incredibly comfortable, but when your dog has probably seen you exhibit this sort of behaviour regularly, they eventually realise that they should try it themselves. This quickly becomes a learned behaviour they’ve gained from mimicking you.”

So, other than stretching, what other human habits do dogs tend to mimic? Dr Schuster shares five below.

Dogs Can Go to Sleep at the Same Time as Their Owners

“For an animal, sleep is instinctually all about safety. If dogs don’t feel safe, then they’ll be reluctant to sleep, as this can leave them vulnerable. By seeing you sleep, a dog can be reassured that the environment is safe enough to let its guard down and relax. Though keep in mind many dogs’ sleeping schedules can be very different to ours – particularly puppies, which can require up to 20 hours sleep a day!”

Dogs Can Have the Same Eating Times as Their Owners

“I’m sure you’ve heard of the term ‘family dinner’ — well, turns out dogs have that too. It’s a normal reaction for a dog to want to eat when we do, particularly if they’re given set schedules for mealtimes like we often have. Eating when we do helps them feel more involved, though avoid giving them food directly from the table as this may promote unwanted food-seeking behaviour or ingestion of foods that may be harmful to them.”

Dogs Can Share Moods With Their Owners

“If you’ve owned a dog, you’ll understand how empathic they can often be. We’ve all had occasions where dogs have helped lift our spirits, comforting us during difficult or emotional moments. They can also try to match our moods — if you’re feeling energetic or playful, most dogs will happily match this with enthusiasm. Likewise, if you’re feeling lazy and just rather sit around all day, most dogs will happily match this (until it’s walk time, anyway).”

Dogs Can Share Personalities With Their Owners

“Any dog owner will know their dogs all have unique personalities — but did you know that the personality of an owner and a dog will often reflect each other? Owners who are more outgoing and active will often see this same sort of personality in their dog, whereas if you’re more reserved and relaxed then your dog will be more likely to resemble this. That being said, they’re all individuals and although influenced by us, they certainly have distinct personalities of their own.”

Dogs Can Talk Like Their Owners

“You’ve probably seen quite a few clips of dogs attempting to talk, and even though most dogs can’t exactly speak, they definitely pick up the language of those around them. Although you might not realise, dogs can be multilingual and learn commands and words in several different languages. So, if you’re learning another language or speak a second language at home, try getting your dog involved too with simple commands like ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ in another language or even sign language.”

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