Optimistic Dogs

In an article in Science Daily, researchers have discovered a way to test dogs for their optimism or pessimism. "Finding out as accurately as possible whether a particular dog is optimistic or pessimistic is particularly helpful in the context of working and service dogs and has important implications for animal welfare," said Dr. Melissa Starling, from the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

According to the research a dog with an optimistic personality expects more good things to happen, and less bad things. She will take risks and gain access to rewards. She is a dog that picks herself up when things don't go her way, and tries again. Minor setbacks don't bother her.

"Pessimistic dogs appeared to be much more stressed by failing a task than optimistic dogs. They would whine and pace and avoid repeating the task while the optimistic dogs would appear unfazed and continue," said Dr. Starling.

Dr. Starling has been working with Assistance Dogs Australia, a charity organization that provides service and companion dogs to people with disabilities, to investigate whether an optimism measure could aid in selecting suitable candidates for training.

Humans do better when they're optimistic too. If you can pick yourself up when things don't go your way, you're better able to learn and succeed. And humans have the ability to change their degree of optimism or pessimism (read more about that here). Maybe they'll figure out a way to help dogs become more optimistic too.

Read the whole article: Dogs Can Be Pessimists Too.

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