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Dogs Can Be Pessimists Too, You Know


Although most dog owners think their furry friends have a positive, sunny outlook on life, the truth isn’t all that bright.

Namely, a recent study has found that dogs can be optimists or pessimists, just like people.  In fact, some dogs are much more pessimistic than others.

Dr. Melissa Starling from the University of Sydney’s Veterinary Science Faculty led the study that suggested that some dogs may perceive the world as a gloomy, sad place.

“This research is exciting because it measures positive and negative emotional states in dogs objectively and non-invasively. It offers researchers and dog owners an insight into the outlook of dogs and how that changes.  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.”

Of all the dogs that were tested, the majority were optimists, but Starling says it’s too early to say if that is true of the general dog population.  Overall, dogs with optimistic personalities expect more good things to happen, while dogs with pessimistic personalities expect more bad things to happen.

“This research could help working dog trainers select dogs best suited to working roles. If we knew how optimistic or pessimistic the best candidates for a working role are, we could test dogs’ optimism early and identify good candidates for training for that role. A pessimistic dog that avoids risks would be better as a guide dog while an optimistic, persistent dog would be more suited to detecting drugs or explosives.”

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