JoAnna Lou
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Do Men Make Dogs More Reactive?
A study looks at the characteristics of reactive dogs

As pet lovers, we've always known that animals pick up on our emotions. When I first started competing in rally obedience and agility, Nemo always seemed to pick up on how nervous I was. As I gained more confidence, Nemo also looked more comfortable in the ring.

But could our being male or female affect our pets?

According to a new study, the sex of the person on the other end of the leash has the biggest effect on reactive behavior towards other dogs. The researchers proposed that the higher instance of threatening behavior and bites may be connected to a higher instance of aggressive and impulsive tendencies in men.

The study is certainly interesting, but there could be many explanations for this finding. Perhaps men are more likely to choose dogs that have strong personalities that are predisposed to being reactive towards other dogs. Or maybe men are less likely to socialize their pets. When I go dog events, like group hikes and play groups, the crowd is always mostly female.

What do you think about the study's findings?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by quinn.anya/flickr.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Suzanne Morgan | November 14 2011 |

As a dog trainer and yoga teacher, I see the direct link to the energy of a person and the energy of his/her dog. Most people are not aware of the influence we have. With awareness, some education and practice, we can work wonders to help both dogs and people be more calm and happy. :) Oh, and I don't think being a man or woman has anything to do with it.

Submitted by Phil Sharp | November 14 2011 |

Suzanne, I agree with you completely and couldn't have said it better myself :)

Submitted by Frances | November 15 2011 |

It all rather confirms what one already knew, doesn't it? Without a lot more exploration, I don't think it tells us a great deal - and surely this is a correlation, rather than an "effect"? There is no evidence that male humans holding the leash causes the behaviour, simply an observation that more dogs walked by men are reactive. I can think of several families where the dog is only walked by the husband/older boys because it is simply too strong for the women to handle, or too reactive for them to want to.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 15 2011 |

>>>What do you think about the study's findings?

I think it's complete bullshit, more appropriate for an emasculating Lifetime movie than anything in reality

Submitted by Michele | November 15 2011 |

There's probably something to the author's speculation that "men are less likely to socialize their pets." I have also noticed that women are more likely to participate in dog events with their pets. Our observations are purely anecdotal, but the lack of frequent casual contact with other dogs is a factor in reactivity, so it's not an unreasonable speculation.

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