Dogs are amazing, cute, and most important of all they are our best friends. You simply just can’t have enough of them, they enrich our lives by providing us comfort and companionship without any conditions plus they allow our lazy minds to get off the couch and go on walks with them. Interestingly enough we are able to tell when our dogs love us or someone else, as we are able to see it from their big smile and body language. But why exactly do they love us? I mean try providing the same love and care to a cat, you’d probably receive a dead mouse and a scratch to your forearm or maybe two.
The science behind why dogs love their owners
I’ll begin by saying, science is not really required to know that a dog loves you, it is clear as a day. Additionally, as we know it dogs are pack animals so it is no surprise they want to be in a pack and their owners are the leader of the pack whom they adore. While it is clear that you love your good boy/girl to no end, some people still wonder if they love us back or not. Well, they do, obviously. In a study, multiple dogs were laid into an MRI scanner, and then various scents were produced to see how their brain reacts to these smells. Unsurprisingly, they reacted with curiosity but once the scent of their owner was presented, the pleasure center in their brain activated. This basically means they are delighted to see you and be around you.
- The Genes: Like all the questions that we have regarding ourselves and others it can be answered with genetics. As you must be familiar with the event that transpired about 40,000 years ago that led us to have dogs as our pets. In those times there were no domesticated dogs or even wild dogs, with continuous bonding and trust-building over a period of time our ancestors were able to tame wolves to be our companions. Though not all wolves were friendly with early humans and most of these encounters may have resulted in serious injuries or even the death of our ancestors. But ultimately, it was a form of genetic mutation in some of the wolves that made them see us as friendly creatures. It was these very wolves with this gene that helped us bond with them. While the ones who were aggressive towards us were left alone for obvious reason and over the course of these 40,000 years those wolves evolved into multiple species of dogs that we love and adore today.
- The Baby Talk: Now you’d be lying to yourself if you say that you’d never or have never talked to your pet in a baby voice. We naturally produce a high pitch voice when we see something cute, or are communicating with a baby, and well, dogs are both. Previously, it was understood that dogs act negatively when talked this way, however, the latest study revealed that not to be the case and that they actually prefer the baby talk. In a study, 37 owners were asked to simply talk with their pets twice. The first time they were asked to talk with a baby voice to see how the dogs reacted and the second talk was as if they were talking to a person of their own age. Interestingly, dogs overwhelmingly preferred the high-pitched baby talk and responded with excitement while they were reacted to the flat pitch. According to the researchers, it was because of the same gene, as puppies would’ve been born in the proximity of humans, we’d have talked in a similar fashion and dogs just evolved to love this way of talk.
- Appreciation: Another quite fascinating aspect that was revealed by brain scans was how much dogs love our praises when we call them a good boy/girl. In this particular study, dogs’ brains were scanned to see their neurological response to being appreciated and food as a reward for good behavior. When they scanned their reward centers, it was seen that their brain fires the same neurons when they are praised as when they receive food as a reward. Therefore, it is certain that they love us at least as much as food, but let’s be honest it is evident they love us way more than scans can prove.
Ultimately, all the efforts and knowledge that went into these tests and studies, have only proved to us something that we already know. There’s no doubt that our dogs love us, if anything we got to know that they love us like food and our baby talk. So next time you are hanging out with your Fido just tell them how much you love them in a high-pitched voice.