It is rare for two different species to have the level of social interaction and mutual understanding that we have with dogs. When we interact with them positively, such as when we hug them or simply look into their eyes, we produce a large amount of oxytocin in our brain. It's the same hormone that encourages bonding between mothers and their newborns, and helps us develop strong relationships and mutual trust. Additionally, studies have shown that oxytocin levels rise in dogs as well. Scientists repeated the process with captive wolves but did not notice an increase in oxytocin levels after they interacted with humans. Domestic dogs appear to be the only animals that experience this hormonal surge while interacting with humans.
What does science say
Studies have also shown that dogs are able to recognize our emotions, an ability previously thought to be limited to humans. The researchers showed the dogs images of positive or negative human expressions by associating them with recordings of sounds related to different emotions. The dogs spent significantly more time looking at the pictures when the sound matched the emotion of the expression they were seeing. This suggests that they have an innate ability to form abstract mental representations of various human emotions rather than simply reacting to sounds or images from learned behaviors.
Everyone knows the strangely contagious nature of yawning. This behavior is directly linked to empathy; Therefore, you are more likely to yawn if someone in your family does so. Aside from humans, communicative yawning has only been observed in other primates, dogs, and surprisingly, parrots. Dogs and humans also show communicative yawning with each other, and the effect is stronger between an owner and his dog than between two individuals who do not know each other.
What about emotions?
We all tend to attribute feelings to pets. When dogs give us those big sad eyes after doing something stupid, it's easy to imagine that they are expressing guilt or sadness, but studies have shown that this expression may appear in humans. Animal psychologists have discovered that dogs have more facial expressions when we look at them than when we turn our backs. It's not surprising to learn that dogs left in shelters who make puppy eyes — raising their eyebrows and looking at us with wide eyes — are more likely to be adopted because this expression elicits a positive innate reaction with so-called “cute” traits. That evokes childhood. At some point in the history of dog domestication, humans probably began to prefer dogs that could have that pretty face!
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