By Laura Sutherland~
We all know there’s a big difference between puppy behavior and activity level compared to older dogs.
Recently, a study in Scientific Reports evaluated 37 border collies of varying ages over the course of four years. A testing tool called the Vienna Dog Personality Test was used to calculate the results.
The study found that some personality traits, such as attraction to novel experiences, the desire to explore, and the urge to run are easily quantifiable.
“Dogs that are active and curious when young will remain active and curious when they get old, but only compared to other dogs,” the study’s author, Borbála Turcsán, said. “A dog’s personality changes over time, and, on average, every dog becomes less active and less curious as they age.”
Furthermore, the most curious and active pups stayed the most curious and active after four years compared to other dogs in the study. But that they were less active and curious than they had been individually.
It was also noted that both problem-solving skills and attentiveness improved in young dogs until about age six, then leveled off. The trait for novelty-seeking (using self-moving or noise-making toys) didn’t change much in early life, but, after age three, curiosity about novel objects and situations started to decline.
As any pet parent of a senior dog has witnessed, energy levels decline with age. This typically means a calmer dog, which can be music to the ears of seniors of a certain age!
Regardless, it appears our pooches’ ability to socialize, along with their need for social contact, never goes away — great news for those of us who value an affectionate, social, and interactive pet.
The ability to tolerate frustration doesn’t really change over time, either. Dogs won’t get crankier or impatient with age unless there is an underlying health issue or unusual antagonist in the environment.
Disclaimer: This study used the smartest breed of dog. Perhaps another breed would have yielded a somewhat different result? Maybe. But I believe most dogs would score very similarly. As a pet-sitter who has cared for and observed so many different pups at all stages of life, I should know!
Whatever the age, canine companions are a blessing. And we owe it to (wo)man’s best friend to learn as much about them as we can to provide the care they deserve throughout all the stages of their adorable lives.