Any pet owner could attest to the fact that the bond between humans and dogs is one of the strongest forces around. However, the science seems to suggest that as well. How did we come to live so closely with our fuzzy friends, and how does that bond affect us?
How did it begin?
Looking so far back in history, we have no real record. However, we do know that we domesticated dogs from wolves. One likely theory is that some wolves would show more interest in humans, likely related to scavenging the bones and leftovers humans would leave out. This became a greater biological divergence as we started to breed those that showed such favourable traits, which happened over 15,000 years ago. This is even longer than we’ve been domesticating pigs, sheep, and goats.
We develop a language with each other
Humans tend to recognise behavioural traits in their own dogs, and while we have the tendency to anthropomorphize actions to make them more understandable, there’s no denying some understanding comes with a bond. But dogs develop that understanding, too, able to learn up to 250 different words and gestures that effectively creates a kind of communication between the species.
We influence each other’s moods
Dogs mimic their owners’ moods, that much is well known by trainers across the globe. When we’re tense, they get tense, when we act excited, they get excitable. However, dogs have just as much an impact on our moods, often for the better. Studies have shown more than anecdotal evidence that they make us happier and raise our moods. There is even evidence to suggest they decrease the production of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone”, which is what can make us feel physical tension when we’re stressed out.
We improve each other’s health
Humans play a huge role in maintaining a healthy life for their dogs. We learn more about what kind of physical activity they need, as well as healthier foods, about which you can click here for more information. But they have a wide range of positive health impacts on us too. Decreased risk of heart disease and heart attacks, lower chances of obesity, improved mental health and even a reduced sensation of pain have all been found to be linked to dog ownership and interaction.
The bond is practically bred into us
One of the things that may have contributed to our ancient relationship with dogs is a genetic mutation, of pure chance, in wolf DNA that increased their interest in us. However, that bond is just as deeply embedded in humans, as well. Humans show a natural increase in the production of oxytocin, a neurochemical that makes us happier. This same hormone is increased when we’re bonding with our own children. It’s no wonder some pet owners call their dogs “fur babies.”
At this point, there’s no denying that humans are dogs are practically inseparable. If we’re one day living on Mars, we have no doubt that we will have our pups living right there with us. Few things are as unbreakable as that bond.