Dogs have firmly established themselves as man’s best friend since and the reasons for that are many. So far, their fuzzy cuddles and their unmissable joy at our sheer existence have served as good ones, but it wasn’t until recently when the scientific advancement of our race allowed us to finally spell out what these are.
Recent studies have come together to give us a clearer picture of what makes the bond between us and our adorable lil’ mutts stronger than an angry Bruce Banner. Read on for the delightful things science has found out about our loveable pooches.
1. The owner’s aroma triggers the ‘reward center’ in a dog’s brain.
Because dogs navigate the world through their noses, the way they process smell offers a lot of potential insight into social behaviour. And introducing the scent of their owners was found to spark activity in the caudate nucleus (also known as the ‘reward or pleasure center’) of the brain that goes to show how dogs prioritize the presence of their human over anything or anyone.
2. The way dogs interpret emotionally laden vocal cues is strikingly similar to how humans do.
Researchers found that happy sounds, in particular, light up the auditory cortex in both species. This likeness is an important step in explaining the indisputably efficient communication system underlying dog-human interaction. So mind you, dogs don’t justseem to pick up on our subtle mood changes – they’re actually physically wired to detect them.
3. Dogs see their humans much like babies sees their parents.
Animal behaviour research supports that dogs see their human caregivers as family – a figure of innate security and belonging. When dogs are scared or worried, they run to their owners, just as distressed toddlers make a beeline for their parents. This is in stark contrast to other domesticated animals: Petrified cats, as well as horses, will run away.
4. Dogs are the only non-primate animals to look people in the eyes.
This unique trait of dogs’ was chanced upon when wolves that were domesticated and raised as dogs were studied – but did not share all their qualities. Turns out dogs seek out eye contact from people, but not their biological dog parents. To them, this is a crucial way of establishing a bond with their owners.
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