Update February 19, 2009: Professional dog trainer and behaviorist Sarah Wilson answers Five Good Questions on PBS Engage.
Every dog owner has a unique bond with his or her pet. But what does that relationship say about us? What does the way we treat our pets say about ourselves? Sarah Wilson asked herself this question, and came up with her list of the nine different behavior patterns seen in dog owners. What personality type are you?
The Angel: Angels, as their name suggests, are all about saving dogs with love. They almost always adopt or rescue their pets, and if circumstances allow, they will rescue multiple dogs, and often own other types of pets as well, including cats, rabbits, gerbils, and birds. Many Angels may have dogs with special needs—such as a missing leg or eye, or animals that have been abused by previous owners. Angels have trouble disciplining their dogs, and hate to use any kind of force. As long as their pet is happy, Angels will tolerate lots of “naughty antics” and even disregard poor housebreaking.
The Soul Mate: Loving, attentive, and empathetic towards their dogs, true Soul Mates value the deep-feeling connections they develop with their pets. Soul Mates are always thinking of their pets’ safety and wellbeing, and a Soul Mate’s dog is always very well taken care of. Soul Mates are also known to take their dogs on many trips, adventures, and outings. As a result, their dogs are usually very well socialized.
The Free Spirit: Free Spirits have no interest in controlling their dogs. They want a stress-free, laid-back relationship, where their dogs have unlimited freedom to do whatever they want. Free Spirits often have high-powered, executive jobs that require constant decision-making. When they get home to their dog at night, they want nothing more than to just let their dog call the shots.
The Idealist: Idealists set very high, but realistic standards for themselves and their dogs. They believe there is one way to do things, and that is the right way. They like an orderly home, and make very good, loyal friends. Rules are very important, and they are disciplined, dependable, and strong. They expect the same of their dogs, but are often elated when their dogs bring a little bit of chaos to their homes — convincing them to loosen up a bit.
The Expert: Experts believe that the best way to keep their dogs safe and happy is to learn everything they can about owning a dog, training, and their specific breed or mix. An Expert will do extensive research before purchasing or adopting a dog. They are often extremely intelligent, with a sharp wit and an excellent sense of humor. They thrive on learning, and make sure their dogs do too. Experts will have their dogs enrolled in obedience, agility, and training classes.
The Observer: Observers appreciate their dogs as dogs and are fascinated by their behavior. Thinking like scientists, observers gain pleasure from watching their dogs and trying to figure them out. Everything their dogs do is a delightful puzzle, and Observers can easily lose track of time while watching animals be animals. Jane Goodall is a classic Observer, as are many loyal NATURE viewers!
The Dynamo: Dynamos are busy people who get a lot done in a day. They are hard workers who stick to a tight and hectic schedule. Most of all, Dynamos are reliable. Their dogs are very well taken care of, and benefit from their daily routine. After going, going, going nonstop all day, a Dynamo can feel drained or empty. Some love from a dog recharges them, soothes them, and helps them keep their priorities straight.
The Master: Masters see themselves as more than dog “owners” — they are coaches, teachers, and leaders. They are extremely persistent and patient, and form their strongest bonds with their dogs by working together. Training takes on an important role, and many Masters are involved in agility and obedience competitions. Masters communicate constantly with their well-trained dogs, and the connections they form are often impressive. Masters need to feel in control, and their posture, gestures, and demeanor all signal leadership.
The Buddy: Buddies are high-energy, full force funsters. They are all for dog sports and outdoor adventures, anytime. They form connections with their dogs by sharing experiences with them. As confident, strong leaders, Buddies have no problem training their dogs. In fact, their dogs seem to naturally fall into step with their owners — the perfect Buddy System. This can be a wonderful and exciting life for both the owner and the dog.