Why Dogs and People Love Each Other.
In this article, Holidays4Dogs looks at the interesting question of why dogs and people adore each other so much. But, we will also ask why do some dogs seem keener to bond with humans than with other canines. Similarly, we will consider why some people would rather hang out with their dogs than with their human friends! Ultimately, we look at the wider subject of why dogs and people love each other and how that unique bond is created.
“I would rather be with my dog than with people!”
As any dog lover will surely agree, there are a lot of reasons why people love dogs! Perhaps, not so much when it comes to human relationships. How many of us have occasionally lamented we would rather have the company of our dog, than interact with other humans?
On the one hand, it may seem odd, almost insulting even, to suggest people might put the company of their pet dog above human relationships. However, there are many advantages to the friendship and bond one can have with a dog.
A dog, with unfaltering loyalty, is always there. Dogs are unequivocally non-judgmental and have no opinion on how much money you have, where you live, the job you have, or what car you drive.
A dog will never betray you, shun you, or bear a grudge and if you’re having a bad day, he will comfort you, empathise with you and content to be with you for who you are – something not always found in human relationships.
Dogs promote social cohesion.
Perhaps a significant reason why people love dogs is because of the social connections they can help us make with like-minded people? Pet owners have been shown in studies to be far less lonely than non-pet owners and many people have made new friends because they have a mutual love for dogs.
There are also advantages to the creation of a bond from the dog’s perspective. The idea that dogs are social creatures only within the confines of their own species may be true to a certain extent. However, scientists the world over have broadly de-bunked this theory.
Dogs are not wolves.
As we have learnt in other Holidays4Dogs articles, dogs are not wolves and there is now plenty of evidence to show that dogs do not behave the same as wolf packs; either captive, or in wild groups. Thus, this has little to do with why dogs and people might love each other.
Wolves in captivity will will become agitated if separated from their wolf pack and seldom bond with their human caretakers; particularly if this involves being in unfamiliar territory. This is not true of domesticate dogs who very readily bond with their human caretakers.
Attachment levels in dogs.
Research on dogs has tested attachment levels between pairs of dogs that have lived together all their lives. During the experiment, each pair of dogs (8 dogs in total aged 7-8 years), were separated for four hours.
The researchers removed one dog from the kennel and observed the second. None of the dogs left alone without their kennel mate showed any signs of anxiety as long as they were in their familiar environment.
The researchers then moved the dogs to an unfamiliar kennel. While stress hormones were recorded as increasing by 50% the dogs did not interact much with each other, or make any attempt to take comfort from one another.
Finally, the experiment put each dog into a strange kennel with the company of its caretaker. In each case, the dogs would seek comfort from the human by getting close and instigating petting. Each dog’s anxiety reduced after interaction with the person.
The conclusion reached was that the dogs appeared to have a much stronger bond with their human caretaker than they did with their kennel mate; even though they had lived with them all their lives.
Selective breeding and socialisation.
This may be even truer of certain specific dog breeds. Chihuahuas, for example, were specifically bred as companion dogs and living hot water bottles for ladies.
They had no need to run, or live in packs, or indeed to mix with dogs much at all. It is little wonder then, that toy dogs like these have a reputation for being feisty and argumentative with their own species and frequently, with dogs three or four times their own size.
Environment and experience.
Environment, experience and genetics are all relevant to how much better a dog responds to people than, to other dogs. Dogs bred specifically to work with humans are perhaps biased to bond with their human partners, rather than with other dogs. Herding dogs, like Border Collies for example, typically lack sociability with unfamiliar dogs.
Socialisation of the dog through key development phases is also a contributing factor. A dog, lacking in social skills may well prefer people over dogs for the rest of their lives.
They are an inspiration for our own unique abilities to love, nurture and care to come shining through. Dogs too gain a great deal of comfort and confidence from the people they live with in a human world.
For us, while we may sometimes prefer the company of our pets instead of people, we should remember that a dog brings out the very best of our own human qualities; essential for being part of a harmonious society.