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Is Your Dog an Optimist or a Pessimist?

There are happy dogs that expect a good thing to happen, and then there are others who seem to have a case of the gloomies. Dogs can be classified as optimists or pessimists the same as humans, according to research from a team led by Michael Mendl.
Mendl, who is head of the Animal Welfare and Behavior research group at Bristol University's School of Clinical Veterinary Science, and his team came to this conclusion after putting 24 male and female dogs, representing different ages, through a few tests.

For the first test, each dog was taken to a room where a researcher interacted with it for 20 minutes. The next day, the researcher did the same thing, but left after just five minutes of interaction. The scientists documented how the dog, when left alone, acted. Some dogs, for example, happily awaited the person's return, while others barked and became anxious.

Next, the researchers trained the dogs to understand that a bowl on one side of a room was full of yummy food, while a bowl on the other side was empty. The researchers then placed bowls at ambiguous places and observed how quickly the dogs would go to the bowls.

"Dogs that ran fast to these ambiguous locations, as if expecting the positive food reward, were classed as making relatively optimistic decisions," explained Mendl. "Interestingly, these dogs tended to be the ones who also showed least anxiety-like behavior when left alone for a short time."

Pessimistic dogs are more likely to be destructive and display other behavior problems. Link -via J-Walk Blog

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we've got one of each at my house.

interestingly enough, intelligence seems to correlate to happiness in dogs, while the opposite is generally true of humans. i think this is because intelligence in dogs equates to a better mastery of their environment, while intelligence in humans leads to comprehension of just how little control we have over ours.
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