As pet owners, we readily admit that we love our pets. So, why else do we climb from our warm beds and walk them out to shiver in the cold of the morning? Why do we walk out of a restaurant before dessert and go back home for a meal? Why do we instantly apologize to them after they bite our slippers? The phrase "man's most beloved companion" is a lie for many of us. However, the question is ....Do our pets love us?
Read i hate my dog
What do the studies say?
A team of researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, used a scientific approach to study the dog's emotional state. They were utilizing MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Researchers exposed dogs to specific smells and then examined their brains. Brain function changes provided information on the state of mind of the dogs.
What is the reason for the odors? Dogs navigate the world using their sense of smell. Dogs, like humans, rely upon their fragrances more than vision for interpreting their surroundings. The way that dogs react to and process scents is a reflection of their emotions. The study utilized smells to stimulate the dog's brain. Using MRI, researchers measured the neuronal responses of dogs when they were exposed to the odors of familiar and uninitiated humans and dogs.
The study found that when dogs were exposed to their owner's scent, The "reward central" within the brain (caudate nucleus) was activated. The caudate nucleus is home to a variety of dopamine receptors. In human brains, just like canine brains, it light up when it is exposed to enjoyable experiences. For instance, the aroma of your favorite food simmering on the stove could stimulate your brain. From all the smells offered to dogs, they responded more positively to the smell of human scents than the smell of dogs. Furthermore, a dog's caudate nucleus reacted most significantly when it smelled the odor of someone they had known. The same reaction occurs in humans when shown pictures of loved ones.
In a similar study conducted in Budapest, researchers studied dogs' brain activity when they were exposed to sounds to discover what happens inside a dog's brain when we talk to them. When exposed to joyful sounds, the dog's brain responds as the human brain does by illuminating its auditory cortex. This clearly demonstrates the efficient interaction between dogs and humans, proving the human-animal bond.
With the help of science, we've discovered that our dogs are emotional, social creatures who respond to human scents and even our voices. They are ecstatic when they smell our scent and the sound of our voice. Research has proven that a portion of the brain of dogs is linked to positive emotions. They do feel love for their human counterparts.
How can you tell if your dog loves you?
Here are some signs that your dog truly appreciates more than just a fresh bowl of kibble or a stroll in the park
Your dog is thrilled to meet you. The dog might jump, bark, and become overly emotional when you enter the door. Maybe, he's calmer and will wag his tail right in response to your greeting.
Your dog will give you gifts. Sometimes, your dog has his favorite toy ready for play, but they usually give it to you as a present. He wants to "share" the item he loves with someone he cherishes.
Your dog places you in second place after food. Beyond eating, your dog is awed by you! Dogs exist within"the "now." If they're hungry and given a bowl of food, they'll avoid human interaction to enjoy the satisfaction of tasty food. The dogs would like to be with you when no food is left in the bowl! Dogs are often drawn to their owners following a meal.
Also Read 20 Dog Breeds That Don't Shed (Much)
Your dog loves to sleep with you. Dogs are innately aware of dangers within their surroundings. They lay in a defensive position while asleep outdoors. They position their noses towards the wind to sniff out threats and turn their backs to the other pack members to create a secure circle. Their willingness to sit together on your couch indicates they are comfortable with you and believe you are a group member. You are part of their family circle.
Your dog stares at you with warm eyes. Direct eye contact could be perceived as aggression within the dog's community. One can look away when two dogs come into contact, indicating respect for the dominant dog. If your dog is looking at you from a position of eyes that appear at ease and of average size, they are smiling at you with warm regards.
Your dog is not concerned about how you look. If your dog loves cuddling your tummy when you've got stinky morning breath after a sweaty workout or even after an incredibly hair-do, It's likely the true meaning of love. Dogs have a deep love for us.
Your dog is with you everywhere. If you feel that you cannot step inside the house without your pet on your side, you are being loved. Dogs are loyal to them for more than security. In contrast to other animals, they cannot enjoy enough of your companionship.