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

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lucy Asher



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020, The Author(s). 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 dogs per 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bram Dube M, Asher L, Wurbel H, Riemer S, Melotti L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2020

Volume: 10

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 24/03/2020

Acceptance date: 09/03/2020

Date deposited: 06/04/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-62094-9

PubMed id: 32210263


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