The Human-Dog Social Bond
What makes the relationship between human and dog so unique and soulful? Well there are always excited to see you when you walk through the door. Likewise, I know if I go away on holiday, the one thing I look forward to coming back to is seeing my dog!
Dogs comfort us when we feel sad, make great listeners and will never judge or spill your secrets – so not only are they are our best friend and part of the family with their unconditional love, but also probably our personal therapist too!
While the exact origin of the human-dog relationship is still debated, it likely began many thousands of years ago when wolves began to scrounge around nomadic hunter-gatherer camps, looking for scraps and leftovers to eat. Dogs, in fact, were the first animals to be domesticated, and have become part of the workforce, assisting people with disabilities; aiding in search-and-rescue operations; providing therapy; sniffing out illicit goods and bombs; and preening at dog shows. But many dogs are more than just our pets – they are beloved family members with an unbreakable bond with us.
In fact, a true emotional connection occurs when dogs and people look at each other, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Science. Research discovered that after humans and dogs looked into one another’s eyes during a 30-minute period, oxytocin, the “love hormone”, is increased in both parties. (Oxytocin is also released when mothers connect with their new-born babies). Another study, published by the journal Cell, revealed that dogs can read human facial expressions and make decisions based on them, proving that they have a high level of emotional intelligence. Need proof? Simply look at your dog without saying anything, and smile at those puppy eyes as they read you – you’ll likely get a tail way in return. That’s why dogs are more likely to listen to you when you look happy and why the way you interact with your dog has a major impact on his/her behaviour.
Getting out of the house to walk your dog or take it to the park doesn’t just provide physical activity but can also help alleviate isolation, improve your social life and increase human-human interaction. It’s not just adults who benefit from our four-legged friend either, research has shown that children who own dogs are significantly more empathetic than those who own cats. Dogs will greet children enthusiastically, seek them out to play and provide companionship and affection. In single-parent families, this attachment between children and their dogs can be especially important.
- A 14,000-year-old grave of a man, woman and dog in Germany is the earliest evidence of human-pet bonding. Today you can have a cupcake whilst your dog enjoys a pupcake! wagwins.co.uk/shop-page
- Children learn empathy from living with and caring for a family pet.
- Dogs rely on our facial expressions and the tones of our voices to figure out if we’re happy or angry.
- Dogs react more to the tone of voice than the words being said.
- A dog’s nose print is as unique as a human fingerprint, and it can even be used for identification. In fact, the Canadian Kennel Club has been accepting nose prints as proof of identity since 1938! The pores, lines and wrinkles on your dog’s snout are unique.
- A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more accurate than ours, depending on the breed. What makes them so good at sniffing out scents is the fact they possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses (compared to only 6 million in humans).
- The part of the dog’s brain that controls smell is 40 times larger than a human’s brain. So yeah, those biscuits you’re baking in the kitchen does smell really good – even from three rooms away! Try hiding a packet of Wag Wins biscuits in a cupboard, your dog is sure to sniff them out! wagwins.co.uk/shop-page
- Puppies are born deaf, but within a month, dogs can hear four times the distance as humans! They can also register high-pitched sounds with the frequency ranges up to 45,000Hz – compared to the human hearing between 20Hz-20,oooHz – which is why loud noises like fireworks can be so uncomfortable to them.