You can’t wait to go home and cuddle with you precious pooch. His big brown eyes and playful wagging tail lift your spirits at the end of a long day. He flashes a toothy grin. He hugs you with furry enthusiasm. Your friends tease that he is more like a son to you than a pet, and you agree.
But how much does your puppy really love you? Well, it’s time to feel reassured. The truth is, humans and dogs share a unique, evolving relationship. Emotionally and socially, the dogs of today are far more like their human counterparts than their wolf ancestors. Read on to find out why.
Human and Dog Genomes Evolved Together
The connection between your pooch and you goes back thousands of years. The parallel evolution of humans and canines has been studied in genome research conducted by the University of Chicago. The study’s findings show that humans and dogs both share genes related to diet, behavior and even cancer.
Dogs Have the “Cuddle Hormone,” Too
Sometimes called the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin is stimulated in humans during sex, when a mother breastfeeds her child and during birth. A paper published by the journal “Science” studied the relationship between oxytocin and human-dog bonding, as well. Not surprisingly, the study showed that increased levels of bonding occurred between humans and dogs when oxytocin increased and vice versa. The affectionate relationship between humans and dogs turns out to be similar to the relationship between a mother and her infant.
Dogs Believe in the Survival of the Friendliest
Your puppy’s ancestors may not have been as cuddly, but they did alter the arc of evolution by being friendly to humans. Rather than operating on the “survival of the fittest” principle, evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare explains that ancient canines began to use humans as tools rather than competing with them.
Instead of hunting them as prey or hunting the prey of the humans, canines would sniff out and eat the garbage that humans produced. The nearby dogs became the humans’ protectors, helpers in a hunt or an emergency food supply. Over time, this mutually beneficial relationship domesticated both humans and dogs.
Your Dog’s Communication has Evolved with Yours
As humans evolve and adapt to a tech-savvy world, dogs learn to adapt alongside their owners. Today’s pooches not only woof and wag their tail to communicate, they have also learned to communicate with their owners via FaceTime. Inventive dog-human interaction is made easier through products like the iCPooch Internet Pet Treat Dispenser and its corresponding app for the iPad Mini. Dogs are just as mesmerized by the screen as a child would be, and they know how to communicate through it, too.
Your Dog Is as Smart and Loving as a Toddler
Don’t worry: you are still the smarter being. But dogs are not as dumb as people sometimes think. In fact, research suggests that dogs are just as intelligent as a 2-year old human. And those beautiful puppy-dog eyes that gaze at you with adoration? That is not just a chemical reaction; that is love. According to Science Daily, dogs experience many of the same emotions as 2-year old humans, including love.
So the next time your friends make fun of how you treat your precious puppy with the love they reserve for their children, tell them this: dogs love humans much like children do. This is supported by neuroimaging research, and, of course, you know no creature could fake being so sweet.