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Study shows choosing the right dog brings similar challenges as dating



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Psychologist Samantha Cohen, who led the study as an IU Ph.D. student, conducted the research while volunteering as an adoption counselor at an animal shelter. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

IU psychologists recently found when people look to adopt a dog they may not always know what they want. The results of the study are from a working animal shelter and could lead to an improved pet adoption process according to an IU press release.

Then-IU Ph.D student in the psychology department Samantha Cohen led the study while working in the lab of Peter Todd, an IU provost professor who is co-author on the study published in the journal Behavior Research Methods. Cohen worked as an adoption counselor at an animal shelter.

"It was my responsibility to match dogs to people based on their preferences, but I often noticed that visitors would ultimately adopt some other dog than my original suggestion," Cohen said in the press release. "This study provides a reason: Only some desired traits tend to be fulfilled above chance, which means they may have a larger impact on dog selection."

In the report, Cohen said animal shelters need to understand that people tend to rely on certain traits more than others. She also suggested temporary interventions with dogs who may be less social as ways to improve the adoption process.

An IU Graduate and Professional Student Government Research Award partially funded this research.

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