The bond between man and dog has been one that has lasted for thousands of years; however, we very rarely ask why. Why do we call dogs ‘man’s best friend?’ Why are we so inclined to treat our dogs like our kids?
Dogs actually have complex social skills they have adapted to make themselves more suitable to our lives, and a few of these behaviors in particular make us treat them more like humans than our pets. Behaviors that have made us particularly fond of treating our dogs like people include:
Dogs Watch for Eye Contact
Have you ever been able to look at your child to get them back in line, or been able to evoke laughter out of a friend with a simple look? This ability to communicate non-verbally through eye contact is another behavior that we share with dogs, and no other animals rely on human eye contact to relay information quite like dogs.
In a recent study, dogs were actually found to watch human faces, and more specifically our eyes, to determine what we wanted from them. Some very attuned dogs will even take commands simply by following their owner’s eye movements.
Dogs Look to us for Answers
The relationship between dogs and humans has evolved for thousands of years. In fact, dog breeds developed so that different types of people could benefit from various working relationships with dogs. Dogs have long been our right hand man when it comes to working, and because of this, dogs look to us for answers to problems.
A recent study involving dogs and their owners required dogs to perform tasks once with their owner in the room, and once when their owner was out of the room. When owners were not in the room, dogs wouldn’t even attempt to complete the task. Most waited by the door for their owners to return. When owners were in the room, dogs would prompt their owners for help and direction so that they could receive the treat reward. This reliance on humans, and subsequently humans reliance on dogs, increases our bond and our likelihood to treat dogs like humans.
Dogs Resemble Their Owners
Ever heard that dogs and their owners often look alike? Well, it’s not just a saying. There is actually research that suggests that pets and their owners often look alike. In one particular study, participants were able to match pictures of pets with their owners with nearly 80 percent accuracy simply by looking at photos.
This resemblance is furthered by our desire to dress our pets. Whether it be a designer collar, harness, or dog clothes, we typically like to dress our pets in a similar style or fashion that we would dress ourselves. With certain online vendors, you can even get dog clothes of your favorite sports teams or costumes that perfectly compliment your own.
Dogs Play with Us
Play increases bonds in humans, and it increases our bonds with our furry friends too. Play releases stress, strengthen bonds, and creates fun memories of our pets, all of which cause us to treat our pets even more like humans. Further increasing the bond is our pet’s ability to initiate play. With a simple drop of a toy in your lap or a playful posture, your pet can get you off the couch and outside enjoying a nice day as opposed to spending all day sinking into the couch.
Dogs Seek Us Out
Does your dog stay close during a thunderstorm? Is your dog waiting for you when you get home? A recent study has shown that dogs have a tendency to seek us out when they are stressed. This reliance on us to make them feel more secure is similar to the way a child or friend would seek us out when stressed.
This ability to seek us out makes us as owners feel protective and needed as caregivers, thus increasing our bond. The behavior also makes us more prone to treating our furry friends just like humans.
There is no denying the bond between humans and dogs. We treat them like our kids, and are even known to physiologically respond to them like our kids. Dogs are our family, and as long as both man and dogs exist, the bond will only continue to grow.