We have all been there. You head out to run an errand, are leaving for work or going out for a night on the town, only to have your dog pout — everything from puppy cries to the oldies straight up ignoring you.
But when your pooch goes from whimpering, anxious youngster to a more aloof, calmer senior, is that a sign that as your sidekick ages, she is less attached to you? Surprisingly, no.
Psychology Today reports on a study where 50 dogs were observed — 25 seniors and 25 young adults. The pooches were put in a room with their owners. A stranger enters the room, attempts to interact with the dog and then the owner leaves. Shortly after, the strangers also leaves.
The exchanges were videotapes and researchers found that the two groups basically acted in a very similar manner, with a few subtle differences. The senior dogs were less likely to stand by the door, engage with the stranger and were more passive upon the departure. Overall, both groups felt safer and more confident when their owners were in the room, the outlet reports. But just because a dog doesn’t exhibit outwards signs of distress and worried behavior, doesn’t mean the situation won’t make him flustered.
In fact, oldies were more anxious, they just didn’t show it. The researchers discovered this after they did a saliva swap before and after the experiment. They also took a sample of the dog’s spit when he was at home, in a stress-free environment. The crew wanted to measure the levels of presence of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. The conclusion? While the oldies outward behavior seemed calm, cool and collected, they had much more cortisol in their bodies, meaning they were more stressed out than the young adults.
“Thus, while passive behavior increases as dogs age, it does not seem to guarantee that they cope better with social separation,” the author of the study concluded.
Image via Flickr
H/T Psychology Today