8 Weird Habits You Didn't Know Dogs Adopt From Their Owners
Almost everyone who has a dog knows that they tend to mimic the personalities of the family they live with. Turns out, dogs are conditioned to behave in certain ways that humans do. These little habits dogs have can look a lot like yours.
The benefits of having a dog are plentiful (even though it can be really hard sometimes). But as cute as it is when a dog starts to mirror your behavior, it's also important to understand that you have a responsibility to not condition them into anything that isn't good for their wellbeing.
"Dogs are very observant and will witness and take in more visual and auditory stimulus than their humans may notice," Stephanie Liff, DVM, of Pure Paws Veterinary Care, tells Bustle. "Because of the vigilant nature of dogs, they are likely to pick up some habits they are witnessing regularly from their human." While sometimes, sharing habits may also mean that you have to be careful not to encourage some of the less-positive behaviors — even if they're really cute — it mostly means that your dog will find ways to fit happily into your routine, and your life in general.
A lot of the habits dogs share with their owners, however, may seem like intuitive dog behaviors. Turns out, a lot of the time, they're just adapting to fit into your life. It's another reason dogs are so likable.
Here are eight weird habits you didn't know dogs adopt from their owners, according to experts.
1. They May Talk Like You
Some dogs naturally like to vocalize. So if these kinds of dogs are around owners who like to speak to their dog, they may speak back.
"Some vocal breeds will howl and bark when a parent howls or is rowdy with them [...]," certified dog and cat behaviorist and trainer Russell Harstein, tells Bustle. "The dog will also be more inclined to howl or become more verbal. If that behavior of vocalizing is reinforced (by laughing, petting, smiling or given a high-value reward of any kind), the dog will continue to offer those behaviors." So if you and your dog have a "conversation" at some point, and you react positively, that moment may become a habit the two of you share.
2. They May Sleep Like You
Dogs naturally sleep way more during the day than their owners, but they also get used to your nighttime schedule as well. Sleeping with a dog is great, and your dog will adjust their habits to make sure this is possible.
"I think the most common adopted behavior is sleeping patterns," Dr. Liff says. "If the owner likes to stay up late and wake up late, the dog is likely to adjust to the same schedule." While not all dogs can adjust to this pattern, many will try to make it work.
3. They May Get Hungry When You Do
If you tend to feed your dog around your own meal times, they'll likely start to get hungry at the same time as you as well.
"Typically if a pet is being fed at a regular time and that changes, they will react to that," Dr. Liff says. "[...] Thus they are conditioned to expect meals based on time of day or certain triggers that indicate meal time is coming, and may become upset or agitated or demanding [...] if that schedule changes." Like you may get frustrated if you have to work through lunch, your dog may get annoyed if you come home late and delay their dinner.
4. They May Want A Similar Exercise Routine
Dogs have many ways of mimicking owner's habits. Another one of these is how much they might want exercise.
Your exercise and walk schedule will become routine for them, even if it changes for you. "If a pet is conditioned to regularly scheduled walks of a specific duration and time and that schedule changes you may see a negative impact on your dog," Dr. Liff says. They may be able to predict when your routine is a bit off, and tell you they're eager to get out and about if you miss one day's jog.
5. They Might Share Your Moods
While most dog owners know that their dogs get excited when they're excited, and can still lie on the couch all day if you're sad or sick, there's actually some science behind this.
"Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of shared emotions between social species when in close proximity to one another," Hartstein says. "Hence, if a parent is calm and confident, a dog will tend to be or inclined to be calm and confident. On the flip side, if a parent is hyper and fearful, the dog will also be inclined to be more hyper and fearful." The sharing of emotions may extend beyond moods, and into general emotional habits.
6. How They Express Affection
While some breeds of dogs are more likely to be cuddly than others, and some are more likely to lick, the extent to which a dog shows affection can be informed by the habits of their owner.
"We show affection in different ways, and some people are more affectionate then others," Nicole Ellis, certified professional dog trainer for Rover.com, tells Bustle. "Our animals often fall into the same habits of expressing their affection from staying distant with simple tail wags, to cuddling and kisses." Your cuddly dog may love cuddles this much because you've made the habit of picking them up and putting them on your lap.
7. They May Move Like You
As you move around, you may realize your dog starts to mimic some of these traits. This habit is pretty well known by trainers, who actually use it to their advantage.
"Our pets often try to mimic us, there’s even training methods using entirely this," Ellis says. "Many pet owners create habits of dancing with their dogs, and soon the dogs have their own dance moves too, from jumping up and down, howling, and spinning." While not all dogs will end up doing full dances with their owners, many may find little ways to mirror the movements of the people around them.
8. They May Get Excited About The Same People As You
You may have noticed that your dog has a bit of a "sixth sense" for people you dislike. This may be in part because they tend to pick up on your emotions, and can tell if you feel off around someone.
"Dogs can easily pick up on our emotions from happy and excited, to scared and upset," Ellis says. "If we get excited every time someone in particular comes over, our pets will soon pick up this same habit of being excited for this new company." This lovely trait of dogs means they can help protect you from people you don't feel comfortable around, and help make those you do love feel warm and welcome.
While not all dogs will pick up on these habits — and some vary by breed and temperament — it is true that dogs tend to share behavior with their owners. Luckily, this is generally quite a positive thing, and will keep your dog happy in the life you provide for them, as long as it's healthy and loving.