(Another question from my ongoing ISCP Diploma in Canine Psychology).
Dogs do not view humans as other dogs. Humans and dogs have been companions for thousands of years, and it is ingrained into both human and canine DNA. We are like 2 alien species that have evolved alongside each other, protecting and nurturing each other for one common goal – survival of the species. Dogs protect humans, and in return, humans provide food, shelter and love. If humans survive, dogs survive too.
Dogs do not view humans as other dogs. Yet as humans, we sometimes tend to humanise our own dogs, dressing them up in children’s clothes, making them wear silly outfits and hats, giving them expensive hair treatments, expecting them to behave just like human children. And chastising them when they don’t. Maybe it’s because of our long association with dogs, or a longing for our dogs to be more like us in their behaviour and looks. Certainly, dogs do not have that kind of expectation of their humans. They may put up with our eccentricities because it is in their nature to want to please us, and because they have learnt that if they please us, they are more likely to get treats and cuddles, than if they displease us. Dogs have learnt that humans are sometimes unpredictable and cruel, and are keen to avoid getting hurt. They have learnt that when a human gets angry or violent, it is best to remove themselves from the situation, or make appeasing movements to calm the human down. But humans don’t always understand the body language of dogs, especially young children, and so when a curious child gets too close to a dog that is frantically giving out appeasement or calming signals (licking its lips, yawning, turning its face away), sometimes the dog has no other option than to growl or nip at the air, as a last resort. And when a child or adult gets bitten as a result, humans always claim it’s the dog’s fault, that it “attacked unprovoked”, “came out of nowhere”, “looked friendly enough”.
Scientific studies have shown that dogs, like humans, release the hormone Oxytocin when feeling happy and loved. Oxytocin spikes in humans when we hug, kiss and make love, and also when we gaze into each other’s eyes. It also serves to bond a mother to her child. It is not known as the “love hormone” for nothing. When humans pat a dog, Oxytocin is released in their bodies, and also in the dog’s body. So much so that the human falls in love with the dog, and the dog falls in love with the human. The bond between dogs and humans runs deeper than previously thought.
(Image source: Google Images)