Do you know what your dog is thinking?
Humans and dogs have lived together for more than 30,000 years. They are marked as man’s best friend and have grown in popularity over the years due to their calming ability for patients in hospitals. They have become a national fixture in households and continue to grow in popularity as I write this article.
Dogs have the most loving personality when raised without negativity. As pet owners across American will admit, dogs seem to love us back just as much or maybe even more than we love them. They steal the pillows, roll around in the dirt and thump their little cute tails as they wait patiently for our time, although some are not very patient and invade our space anyways. Dogs have different personalities just as humans do and just like humans, they think differently too.
Recent brain imaging technology has let researchers gain access to what happens within a canine’s brain. From what researchers have gathered through this study, dogs not only love their owners back, they consider them a part of their family. They also tend to rely on their owners for more affection and protection than they do their own kind.
Researchers collected this brain-based evidence that dogs are devoted so much to their owners via a neuroimaging study through odor processing from a dogs brain. Dog participants for the study were trained to lie within a MRI machine while an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scan was used to measure the neural response the dog had to other dogs and humans. Since dogs move through the world and rely on their nose for protection and food, it was evident to researchers that the nose could provide better research into a dog’s brain and their behavior.
As expected, the researchers found that when the dog’s owner walked by, their aroma would trigger the area known as the “reward center” (caudate nucleus) within the dogs brain.
The study also showed that dogs are affected emotionally by laden vocal sounds. Happy sounds were used in the study which lit up the auditory cortex within the dog, just as it does with humans. This connection shows that a unique and strong communication system can be made between dogs and humans.
This means that dogs are wired to pick up on their owners mood changes, it comes completely natural to them.
Attila Andics, a neuroscientist and lead author of the study, “It’s very interesting to understand the tool kit that helps such successful vocal communication between two species. We didn’t need neuroimaging to see that communication works [between dogs and people], but without it, we didn’t understand why it works. Now we’re really starting to.”
The research also found that dogs react much like a baby would to their parent. When a dog is afraid or worried about something, they run to their owner for love and protection, much like a toddler would when distressed about something.
Dogs are also the only non-primate animal that will look people in the eyes. It is a way of bonding for them.
Andics concluded, “Bonding with owners is much more important for dogs than other pets.”