Your dog, your baby

Do you treat your dog as if her or she is your baby?
Our dogs may be more like children that we previously believed. We nurture them from babies, we clean up after them, we forgive their indiscretions and we love them – just as we would a human child.

Often the rest of the non dog owning world or the owners who believe “a dog is just a dog” think that we are just a little (or perhaps a lot!) crazy. Research shows that dog lovers may be right. Dogs are like children. Human children are programmed to tune into their adult carers. They are interested in our language, watch our faces and respond to verbal and physical interactions. Our dogs do too.

In fact, scientists are concluding that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs’ social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a 6-month to 2-year-old child. Dogs pick up not only the words we say but also out intent to communicate. Try talking out loud in a dull voice. Your dog probably does not respond. Try talking in a light, happy tone and your dog perks up and starts to listen to you. This reaction is very similar to that of young children.

Dogs can follow our gestures. When we look at an object their eyes follow ours. This may sound simple but few animals have this ability. Some dogs can understand up to 200 words of human vocabulary. OK this might not be your dog but don’t rule it out until you have tried training him!

This may seem simple stuff to a dog lover. We know what our dogs are capable of. We know that they hang on our every word. We know they gaze at the cupboard where we keep their food, hoping our gaze will follow theirs! Dogs have us well trained!

Science has to catch up and prove the abilities that we instinctively believe our dogs have. And science is catching up. The more we learn, the more we discover that our relationship with dogs bears great similarities with that of young children.

But you are a dog lover. You already knew that!

Further reading: Dogs read our intent too: study

 


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