A close up of a tiger's paw while it is sleeping.

Our chihuahuas are known for being high strung, but an interesting study conducted in 2015 revealed it might not be entirely your dog. It turns out, the type of clothing you wear can make your dog feel more nervous–so much so that authorities conduction temperament tests avoid wearing certain things in case they throw off the test.

If you want your dog to feel at their most comfortable with you, avoid wearing stripes when hanging out with your pet. If you happen to be wearing stripes, especially if they’re in a bold pattern, it could induce fear and anxiety in your pet.

The Study

In the original study, scientists set out to find out if patterns had any affect on a pet’s mood. The study was repeated twice in shelter settings, with a volunteer wearing different patterns and slowly passing dogs. The dogs were observed to assess how they reacted to the passerby.

When the scientist was wearing a striped shirt, dogs displayed much more anxious behavior than when the volunteer was wearing any other kind of clothing. The dogs reacted most strongly to narrow, thin stripes that were evenly banded. The dogs in the second test reacted in the same way as the dogs in the first test, which suggests a strong link to the clothing.

The scientists used a male volunteer the first time, and a female volunteer the second time, as a way of checking whether it could be other things besides the shirts causing their reaction. Dogs reacted to the striped shirt the same way regardless of gender.

An Instinctive Fear

Scientists believe that this anxiety may be rooted in instinct. In the wild, many animals use stripes to indicate that messing around with them is not a good idea. Snakes, skunks, and many poisonous or venomous animals utilize stripes as a warning system.

At one time, scientists thought that physical experience (getting sprayed by a skunk) is what teaches the victim to be more weary of that species in the future. This doesn’t make sense for animals that are deadly–you can’t learn to avoid a snake if it kills you the first bite.

It’s very likely that fear of stripes is rooted more deeply. Animals, including dogs, have a deep rooted fear of stripes because it is life saving to do so.

Calming Clothes

If you are going to meet a new dog and don’t want to alarm them, think solids. In the studies, dogs reacted to plain, solid colors in the calmest manner.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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