We, humans, are the only species known to keep other animals as pets. The domestication of dogs and their co-habitation with mankind has a long history going back more than an estimated 20,000 years. How has this relationship lasted for tens of thousands of years?
Ever wondered about our relationship with dogs? Why we enjoy our furry canine companions so much? Do they too enjoy our company as much as we enjoy theirs? Here, we try to analyze how it all began, and how it is that humans and dogs have had such a long-standing steady relationship.
The Beginnings Of The Companionship
There have been umpteen scientific studies researching the relationship between dog and man? It cannot be accurately determined how long ago man began their relationship with domesticated dogs. One study from 2015 by the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School theorized that today’s domesticated dogs might owe their ancestral origins to multiple ancient wolf breeds. One popular idea speculates that our ancestors may have first domesticated wolves because of their usefulness in hunting. As humans tamed them, wolves gradually turned into companions before eventually evolving into dogs.
The Science Behind Dog Adoration
What are the deep-rooted reasons behind the humans love for dogs? Obviously, it goes beyond the usual reasons of adoration which include terms such as “cute,” “cuddly” “fluffy” or “tail wagging.” Scientists at the Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine in Sagamihara of Japan have come to the conclusion that there is an actual scientific explanation behind our love for dogs over thousands of years.
When we gaze into the eyes of dogs, a “love hormone” called oxytocin spikes in our bodies. It is considered one of the most important bonding mechanisms in humans, without which, evolutionary bonding, trust, and affection would not be possible. After an interaction period of around 30 minutes, the researchers tested oxytocin levels in urine from both the human and the dog. Surprisingly, it was found that the oxytocin levels in humans increased.
Do Dogs Love Us Back Equally?
It’s clearly evident that dogs enjoy the companionship of humans, but do dogs too enjoy gazing into our eyes? The same study revealed that the more dogs gazed into human eyes, the more pleasure, and feelings of adoration they experienced. In the same study, dogs were sprayed with either oxytocin or saline and then placed in a room along with its owner and 2 strangers. The study found that dogs who were sprayed using oxytocin spent significantly more time gazing into their owner’s eyes than they did the others.
Why hasn’t the oxytocin reaction been observed among other species? More research is being done on how the oxytocin connection can be useful in therapy and other fields. So, if you’ve ever wondered how your dog truly feels about you: dogs really do love humans as deeply as we love them. And now we have scientific proof of how important we are to our dogs as well!
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