Why Do Humans And Dogs Get Along So Well

Science has your back if you consider your dog to be your “fur baby.” According to recent studies, when our canine friends look into our eyes, they trigger the same hormonal reaction that makes us bond with human infants. The study—which is the first to demonstrate this hormone bonding effect between humans and another species—might contribute to the understanding of why dogs initially became our companions so long ago.

According to Brian Hare, a canine cognition specialist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who was not involved in the research, “It’s an astounding finding that implies that dogs have hijacked the human bonding system.” According to Hare, the finding could help explain why assistance dogs are so beneficial for persons with autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. Given its potentially wide-ranging ramifications, a result of this scale has to be reproduced.

Dogs are already well known for their propensity to engage in human interaction. Dogs appear to comprehend humans in a manner that no other animal can, and it’s not simply because they enjoy going on walks and catching Frisbees. Dogs have an instinctive understanding of our intentions—”I’m trying to teach you something,” for instance—that baffles even chimps, our closest living cousins. When interacting, both people and dogs also glance into each other’s eyes. Wolves, the closest living relatives of dogs, take this as a sign of hostility.

Takefumi Kikusui, an animal behaviorist at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, was intrigued by this shared gaze. The oxytocin hormone, which affects maternal attachment, trust, and altruism, is the subject of research at Kikusui’s group. Other studies have demonstrated that when a mother looks into her baby’s eyes, the infant’s oxytocin levels rise. This drives the child to look back into its mother’s eyes, which prompts the mother to release more oxytocin. When the baby is unable to express itself in other ways, this positive feedback loop appears to build a strong emotional relationship between mother and kid.

Having owned a dog for over 15 years, Kikusuia questioned if the same applied to dogs. I always feel like my dogs are more of a buddy than a pet, he says, adding that he loves his pets. “So I began to question, “Why are they so near humans?” Why are they so closely tied to us?”

30 of their friends and neighbors were persuaded by Kikusui and his colleagues to bring their pets into his experiment. They discovered a few people who were keeping wolves as pets and got in touch with them. The researchers allowed the owners to interact with their animals in a room together for 30 minutes after collecting urine from both animals when each owner brought their pet into the lab. The owners would frequently chat to and pet their pets during this period. Dogs and their owners were also sharing eye contact, some for a few seconds, others for several minutes. Unsurprisingly, the wolves didn’t make much eye contact with their owners. The crew collected further urine samples after the allotted period was gone.

Mutual eye contact had a significant impact on the dogs’ owners as well. Both male and female canines and both male and female owners showed a 300% increase in oxytocin levels in the pairs that had spent the most time looking into each other’s eyes. (Kikusui took part in the experiment with his two standard poodles, Anita and Jasmine, and was one of them.) No wolf-owner pairs or canines and owners that had spent little time looking at each other showed an increase in oxytocin, according to the researchers.

The same fundamental steps were followed in a subsequent experiment, but this time the dogs were first given an oxytocin nasal spray before interacting with their owners. This time, there were no wolves either. Giving a nasal spray to a wolf would be extremely risky, Kikusui laughs. Female dogs given the nasal spray spent 150% more time looking into their owners’ eyes, which caused their oxytocin levels to increase by 300%. Male dogs or dogs given a nasal spray that solely included saline did not experience any effects.

The team published their findings online in Science today. The findings indicate that human-dog interactions trigger the same kind of oxytocin positive feedback loop as interactions between mothers and their young. And that could also help to explain why we have such a strong bond with our pets and vice versa. According to Kikusui, it’s possible that the nasal spray only had an impact on female canines because oxytocin plays a bigger part in female reproduction and is crucial for labor and nursing.

According to him, the domestication of dogs may have benefited greatly from this positive feedback loop. Only those wolves who could form bonds with humans would have been cared for and protected as they changed from wolves to dogs. Additionally, it’s possible that humans themselves have evolved the capacity to reciprocate, adapting the feedback loop of mother bonding to a new species. The adaptation may have been crucial for human survival as well since oxytocin reduces anxiety, claims Kikusui, who calls it “our biggest speculation.” “It’s better for people’s health if they are less stressed out.”

Jessica Oliva, a Ph.D. student at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, whose recent research demonstrated that the hormone improves dogs’ comprehension of human pointing, adds, “I definitely think oxytocin was involved in domestication.” The majority of these canines likely link the action with food and play, both of which can raise oxytocin levels; still, she notes that mutual gazing doesn’t occur in a vacuum. So even while we may think of our dogs as our children, that doesn’t mean that they do, too. We might just be hip pals who occasionally give them a massage.

Why do people bond with dogs so strongly?

The social support theory contends that companionship and social support, both of which are essential for wellbeing, can be found in animals. The social impact of dogs on people is particularly important for those who are more likely to be socially isolated, such as elderly people and youngsters without siblings.

Canines and people get along?

Since both humans and dogs are social animals, the collaboration is advantageous to both parties. Dog owners tend to their canines and provide for them, which helps to ease their fears and make them feel secure. Thus, both parties gain from this symbiotic relationship.

Do dogs like coexisting with people?

With humans, dogs have a unique chemistry that dates back many thousands of years. Researchers looked at this unique evolutionary link from a variety of perspectives. Their findings are unexpected.

Domestic dogs are so recently descended from wolves that they retain all biological characteristics of wolves, including their social behavior. There are some fascinating analogies between wolf packs and human families:

  • They have boundaries.
  • They work together to hunt.
  • Members of the pack are emotionally connected and eagerly welcome each other back after being apart.
  • Even if the other members of the wolf pack are sexually mature, only the alpha male and female are sexually active.

Dogs and people have sufficiently similar social adaptations for them to coexist peacefully alongside one another. The best food and medical care are provided for dogs, and they regularly sleep in their owners’ cozy beds.

Why do people treat a member of an alien species with such respect? The quick explanation is that families do not perceive the dog as alien on an emotional level. About 40% of dog owners consider their dog as a family member, demonstrating social compatibility between our two species, according to John Archer (1) of the University of Central Lancashire, who has performed a thorough study of dog-human connections from an evolutionary perspective.

Dogs are incredibly perceptive and have the remarkable ability to foresee what their owners will do, whether it’s preparing for a walk or fetching the dog a meal. Research demonstrates that dogs and wolves are skilled observers of human body language who use our gaze to find hidden food (2), a challenge that is beyond the capabilities of chimpanzees.

Additionally, dogs appear to be able to sense their owners’ emotions and will show remorse when they are upset, for example. Otherwise, the dog is a treasured “family member” due to its ability to unconditionally show affection.

The first domestic animal that we formed a close bond with was a dog. Since the majority of domestic dogs have been separated from wolves for at least 100,000 years, according to mitochondrial DNA study, we have been related with dogs for as long as we have existed as a species (Homo sapiens). In fact, some admirers, like Colin Groves of the Australian National University in Canberra, think that dogs have contributed to our success as a species (3).

As said by Groves: “The bond between humans and dogs is comparable to a very old symbiosis. Dogs served as humans’ alarm systems, trackers, hunting companions, garbage disposals, hot water bottles, and guardians and playmates for young children. Dogs received protection and food from people. Over the course of over 100,000 years, the connection remained stable and deepened into mutual domestication during the Holocene. Dogs domesticated humans, and humans domesticated dogs.”

When compared to other primates, our ancestors’ ability to detect danger and detect the scent of prey animals decreased, forcing them to rely on dogs. The reduction of brain areas dedicated to these sensations supports this view (the olfactory bulb and lateral geniculate body).

Dogs’ brains have decreased by roughly 20% over the lengthy time of our interaction, which is common for animals like sheep and pigs who benefit from our protection. The brain tissue in the cerebral hemispheres necessary for learning and cognition is lost in domesticated animals. If we relied on dogs for hearing and smell, it stands to reason that they depended on us for part of their thinking as well. The human brain would have shrunk if Groves’ theory that humans were tamed by dogs is true. Surprisingly, human brain size has decreased, but only by a tenth, indicating that dogs benefitted more from the process than we did.

1. J. Archer (1997). the reasons why people adore their dogs. 18, 237–259. Evolution and Human Behavior.

2. Wynne, C. D. L., Dorey, and Udell, M. A. R. (2008). Wolves are better than dogs in picking up on social signs from people. 1767–1773 in Animal Behaviour, 76.

Groves, C. P. 3. (1999). both benefits and drawbacks of domestication. 4, 1–12 of Perspectives on Human Biology

Do dogs believe we are canines?

Let’s not abandon you here, then. Do dogs believe that people are canines? The short answer is no. They undoubtedly wish we would occasionally enjoy the dog park with them and roll about in the mud with them. Beyond that, it’s doubtful that they perceive us as tall, hairless doggos with a supply of dog treats.

But what’s really intriguing is how dogs recognize our differences from them. So, cuddle up with your pet as we study how dogs perceive their four-legged friends.

Your dog needs to understand the distinction between dogs and people much like Snoop Dogg does between Bay Area hip-hop and East Coast hip-hop.

Do dogs believe they are children of humans?

  • It is possible for a puppy and a human to form a mother-like bond.
  • Dogs can detect human facial expressions and have a highly developed sense of smell that aids in human identification.
  • A dog’s choices are influenced by positive reinforcement and socialization with both humans and other dogs.

Many think that socialization rather than biology has a larger role in a healthy puppy-parent bond. Therefore, a puppy can absolutely view you as his “mother,” that is, his provider and protector, and form an emotional connection with you that is just as strong as if you were related to him by blood.

Your puppy will also pick you out of a crowd of strangers with ease using both his keen eye and nose. However, it takes some care to establish positive relationships and make sure your dog sees you as his devoted pet parent.