Dogs certainly have a way of bringing out the best in us. They
read our emotions and provide quiet comfort or a good belly laugh
when we need it most. Despite our shortcomings, they love us
unconditionally, and would happily lay down their lives for us.
With so many complex and admirable traits, it makes you wonder if
your dog is really a human in disguise.
Or maybe it’s more accurate to say they are the humans we
aspire to be. As Andy Rooney said, “The average dog is a nicer
person than the average person.”
Here are five scientifically-proven signs your dog is basically
just a “miniature buddha covered in hair!”
1. They are capable of complex emotions.
Through a series of social experiments and MRI imaging of the
canine brain, scientists have made some remarkable discoveries
about the emotional lives of dogs.
A 2014 study reported in Current
Biology used MRI technology to show that dogs can detect
variations in tone and mood in the voices of fellow dogs and
humans. They have a mechanism for processing emotional voice cues
similar to that of humans which is a strong indicator they are
capable of empathy. Not that pup parents need science to convince
them of this. All the nudging and tear-licking when we are sad is
Another significant experiment involves the Oxytocin-gaze
positive loop most commonly seen between a mother and newborn
baby. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with love and bonding. The
study found that just like new parents and couples in love, this
hormone increases when dogs gaze into the eyes of their favorite
In addition to these positive emotional responses, you can tell
your dog is really a human by his capacity for jealousy. The
University of Vienna sought to find out whether dogs
feel jealousy by having two pups simultaneously perform the
same command. One dog was consistently rewarded for his efforts
while the other was not. As expected, the dog who did not receive
treats refused to continue responding to commands.
Another social experiment found that canine subjects
display more “jealous-like traits” (such as snapping or
wedging between the owner and the object) when their owners pay
attention to a fake dog than when they show attention to
“non-social objects” (such as books or toys).
2. They mimic
your actions and facial expressions.
Humans and primates have a social trait known as “emotional
contagion.” This is why we yawn when our coworker yawns or
smile at cooing babies. Our brains are hardwired to match the
emotions and physical expressions of our fellow humans. It is a
social evolution showing our capacity for empathy.
It turns out dogs perform the same kind of social mimicry with
one another. We already know our pups can sense our moods, but they
also take it a step further. Studies show they actually read the
emotions in our facial and body expressions and match them.
3. They look you in the eyes.
Dogs rarely make eye contact with one another. They may lock
eyes for a few seconds during play, but outside these encounters
they typically see it as a challenge. However, over their thousands
of years as companions to humans, dogs have adapted to looking us
in the eyes.
Through close observation, dogs learn our likes and dislikes.
Humans tend to see eye contact a sign of respect and an important
means of communication. Since your dog is really a human, he adapts
to this behavior in order to please you. From there, the remarkable
Oxytocin gaze-positive loop develops and you find yourself madly in
love with the furry genius at your feet!
4. They hold grudges.
Now that we know dogs are capable of complex human feelings –
both positive and negative – it stands to reason they can be a
bit spiteful. Although they
do not form long-term memories in the same way we do, they
have what’s referred to as “associative memories.” They
associate their experiences with a specific emotion, such as fear
during vet visits.
2017 study testing whether dogs hold grudges found that pups
will refuse to take treats from people they witness being
“mean” or unhelpful to their owners. However, the same dogs
will eat from the hands of those they see helping their humans.
Clearly our dogs have our backs!
5. They love you just as
much (or more) than your human friends.
We often refer to dogs as “man’s best friend,” but maybe
it’s time for a better comparison. After all, I know for a fact
my human best friend wouldn’t sacrifice her life to save mine.
I’m not even sure she’d risk breaking a nail for me! Yet our
canine “best friends” perform stunning acts of heroism on our
behalf every day.
A quick search of the iHeartDogs catalog reveals dozens of
stories involving dogs saving humans from
medical emergencies and more. Why do they do this?
Some cynics believe dogs are not capable of love; that they only
act like they care for us to ensure we keep feeding and sheltering
them. If dogs only use us to survive, they would never put their
lives on the line for us. If survival were the ultimate goal, they
would escape the burning houses, run from the gators, and hide from
the robbers without a second thought for our wellbeing.
Dogs selflessly risk life and limb for us – and we know they
aren’t doing it for the publicity! The only possible conclusion
is that they truly love us. Maybe our dogs really are human. If so,
they certainly represent the best of us! Either way it’s time to
update “dogs are man’s best friend” to something more
accurate. I think “dogs are family” says it all.
Source: FS – Dogs – iHD
5 Signs Your Dog Is Really A Human In Disguise