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Parallels in the interactive effect of highly sensitive personality and social factors on...

Parallels in the interactive effect of highly sensitive personality and social factors on behaviour problems in dogs and humans


Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) is a personality trait in humans characterised by a tendency to process information deeply, to be easily overstimulated, and to have strong emotional responses and an enhanced sensitivity to subtle stimuli. A trait similar to SPS has recently been identified in dogs (“canine Sensory Processing Sensitivity”, cSPS). In children, this trait interacts with parenting factors to influence emotional and mental development, which in turn are linked to behaviour problems. Paralleling these findings in humans, we demonstrate that cSPS interacts with owner personality and use of aversive communication to influence the likelihood of behaviour problems in dogs. More behaviour problems were reported for more highly sensitive dogsper se, when there was a relative mismatch between owner and dog personality, and when use of “negative punishment” was reported. These findings indicate that a dog’s personality might moderate how an individual is affected by environmental factors, particularly owner personality and communication style, emphasising the importance of considering individuality in prevention, development and treatment of behaviour problems in dogs.


Data: 24 marzo 2020

Authors: Maya Bräm Dubé, Lucy Asher, Hanno Würzel, Stefanie Riemer & Luca Melotti.


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