All the reasons dogs and humans are BFFs, according to science
If you weren’t already convinced that dog is man’s best friend, here are some scientific studies that take the human-dog bond to a whole new level:
Because we go way back
Before the Pomeranian, dachshund and plethora of other modern dog breeds, the first and original dog was the Siberian wolf. Modern dogs are believed to have descended from domesticated wolves around 11,000-16,000 years ago. However, Scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History have found a 35,000-year-old wolf bone that suggests that humans started domesticating dog between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago. Now that’s some deep-rooted history.
Because they make us feel loved
Besides being the best cuddle buddy, running partner and all around sidekick, we love our dogs almost as much as if we gave birth to them ourselves. No joke! A recent study published in Science Magazine, suggests that the human-dog bond is similar to that of new moms and their babies.
The study showed that when dog owners had half an hour to interact with their dog, those who held longer gazes with their dog, had increased levels of oxytocin. Also known as the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin is produced when people experience intense moments of bonding. The researchers also measured the oxytocin levels in the dogs and saw similar results; dogs that held eye contact with their owners produced higher levels of oxytocin.
Because they make us healthier
While it may seem like humans are constantly taking care of our furbabies, our dogs are actually taking care of us in their own way. Dogs can help people with stress and anxiety and may even provide us with probiotic perks. The human body, especially our gut, contains different communities of bacteria. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help us digest food and maintain a healthy immune system. With existing research showing that dogs and their owners develop similar bacterial communities in their gut, the University of Arizona’s Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative (HAIRI) is currently conducting a study to see if living with dogs can promote the growth of “good” bacteria in humans.
Because they still think we’re awesome, even when we haven’t showered
Even with the cute head tilts and wagging tails, it’s still impossible to tell what your dog is thinking. That is if you don’t have a MRI machine! Dr. Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist and the author of “How Dogs Love Us”, has been conducting studies to find out what goes on in our pooches’ little noggins. Dr. Berns uses a special MRI technique known as functional MRI (fMRI). This imaging method follows the blood flow in the brain, allowing scientists to see which regions of the brain are being used.
In one of Dr. Berns’ studies, he observes how dogs respond to certain scents. Dr. Berns focused on 5 distinct scents: a familiar human, a dog within their household, an unfamiliar human, an unfamiliar dog and their own scent. Dr. Berns and his team discovered that dogs have positive associations with the scent of a familiar human. When the dogs smelled their human, the fMRI showed that the caudate nucleus region of a dog’s brain, the portion that is associated with the reward process and positive expectations, is activated by the scent of a familiar human.
Basically, just the smell of you makes them happy, and yes, it doesn’t matter how many days it’s been since our last shower. Got to love dogs.
(Images via iStock, Shutterstock)