New Brain Scans Show that Dogs Love Us, More Than We Thought

Ever wonder what your dog really thinks of you? Thanks to brain imaging technology, we now have a pretty good idea of what canines think of their owners. Finally, a look into our fur kid’s head & heart.The folks at ScienceMic share the results of a few new studies that show our furry canine friends may love us even more than we thought.

Recent developments have allowed scientists to study the brains of dogs. As it turns out, dogs really do love us back. In fact, they consider us a part of their family. And they rely on us more than they do other canines for protection, affection and a host of other things.

A recent neuroimaging study looked a dog’s odor processing abilities, which gave scientists some insight into canine social behavior. What scientists found was that when the dogs picked up the scent of their owners, it activated the reward center in their brains. Of all the tantalizing smells the dogs could take in, they prioritized the scent of their humans above all else.

Dogs gathered around MRI scanner Image Credit: Borbala Ferenczy

Image Credit: Borbala Ferenczy

Another study looked at canine brain activity when exposed to different sounds, including human voices, and dog barking. Much like humans have always thought, dogs can pick up on changes in the tone of human voices. Happy sounds, for example, lit up the auditory cortex.

The article by goes on to say:

Dogs are also the only non-primate animal to look people in the eyes. This is something Andics, along with other researchers, discovered about a decade ago when he studied the domestication of wolves, which he thought would share that trait. They endeavored to raise wolves like dogs. This is a unique behavior between dogs and humans — dogs seek out eye contact from people, but not their biological dog parents.

“Bonding with owners is much more important for dogs than other pets,” said Andics.

A dog can look right into your heart.

Scientists have also looked at the dog-human relationship from the other direction. As it turns out, people reciprocate dogs’ strong feelings.

In a study published in PLOS One in October, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers measured human brain activity in response to photos of dogs and children. Study participants were women who’d had dogs and babies for at least two years. Both types of photos sparked activity in brain regions associated with emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social interaction.

Basically, both furry and (typically) less-furry family members make us equally happy.

Can our Dogs Interpret our Moods?

Yes, dogs are actually hardwired to pick up on our subtle mood changes.

Behavior research also shows that dogs interact with their owners in the same way a caregiver interacts with a child. When they’re scared, they run to their human family for protection just as a toddler would. What’s even more amazing is that dogs are the only animal, aside from primates, that will actually look people in the eyes. This is a trait that not even their wolf ancestors share.

Most dog owners love our dogs just like our children.

Most dog owners love our dogs just like our children.

Of course, it’s not just dogs that have affection for humans. We, too, view our furry companions as one of the family. Another study found that humans feel the same emotions when they see their dogs as they do when they see their children.

Many owners refer to their dogs as their “fur babies” and go to great lengths to make sure they know they are part of the family.

Best said by Roger Caras

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

Know a dog lover? Share this to let them know that their dog loves them back!

Article Source: Science.Mic