What Makes Someone A Dog Person?

What Makes Someone A Dog Person?

It has been said that there are two types of people in the world: dog people and cat people. But why is it so? Is it just down to chance or is there science behind this personal preference?

“Dogs are partners in… evolution,” author Donna Haraway wrote in The Companion Species Manifesto, which acknowledges the fact that dogs and humans have evolved together, with it thought that our dual relationship goes back 50,000 years, and Haraway further ties the two of us together by adding that dogs “are here to live with”.

From another perspective, on the relationship between humans and dogs, author Jules Howard wrote in Wonderdog: How the Science of Dogs Changed the Science of Life, that the more compassionate that we have become “in our explorations into… dogs, the more intelligent they have shown us to be”. This way of looking at the relationship between dogs and humans is designed to frame the coupling of us on a deeper, philosophical level.

Scientific Research

Studies into the physiological impacts of dog ownership on humans were published in 1984, with Alan Beck and Aaron Katcher showing a reduction in cortisol along with heart rate in test human subjects when they patted a familiar dog. 

Furthermore, Stanley Coren, a professor at the University of British Columbia, has published several books related to the subject, including The Intelligence of Dogs in 1994, and Why We Love the Dogs We Do, in 2000. Coren wanted to learn more about the relationship between dogs and humans, and specifically the effect that pet ownership had on dog owners. Using a method called the interpersonal circumplex model, Coren spoke to owners of dogs in an attempt to gain an understanding of their personalities, and he made a number of findings, including that he believes dog owners have a stronger bond with their pet when compared to cat owners, and that people who own both dogs and cats are more likely to have an overall preference for dogs.

In 2010, Professor Samuel D. Gosling from the University of Texas conducted a study which produced further findings in this field of research. Gosling found that dog owners were 13% more likely to be agreeable in their personality; 15% were more likely to be extroverted in their behaviour; and 11% were more likely to be conscientious in their nature.

As for dogs themselves, they can and have also been evaluated. Coren retains extensive data through his research and says there are parallels in behaviour that can be found between dogs and humans, and when it comes to the relationship between us and our furry friends, in theory “we can change each other”.

Dogs And Cats

Dr Beatrice Alba, who lectures in psychology at Deakin University, conducted studies on pet ownership, including the personality trait of dominance, in both animals and humans. In her view, “The dog… worships you”, whereas a cat will assume the position of “you worship me”. She also found that “Cats are not submissive”, and if you are a person who has more dominant personality traits, you are going to prefer a type of pet that matches your own personal preference.

Alba also notes that competitiveness in humans might be trait that decides whether they are a dog person or a cat person. If “You like to compete”, and, if “you like to win”, then with a dog, “you have already won”, while with a cat, “You don’t win”, because “the cat wins every time”, which again might decide which type of pet a person may prefer.

Pets And Politics?!

When it comes to dogs vs cats, even the subject of a pet owners political persuasion can be examined. It is suggested that owners of dogs are more inclined to be conservative in nature, whereas cat owners are more likely to be progressive, and studies in the United States have shown that conservative voters are more likely to be dog owners, while progressive voters are more likely to be cat owners. 

What is probable, is that conservative voting is more likely to occur in geographic locations where there is an increase in open land that is available to occupy, while progressive voting is more likely to occur in densely populated urban areas, with smaller living spaces, which naturally influences the dog and cat ownership balance due to geography and necessity.

So What Does Makes Someone A Dog Person?

When it comes down to pet preference, including whether someone is a dog person or a cat person, it is likely that there a number of factors involved, including the owner’s personality and their geographical location and living circumstances. And while it is interesting to delve into this subject on a deeper level, at the end of the day, as long as you and your pet are happy, everyone wins.

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