60(ish) Seconds: The Inner Lives of Dogs
Published24 March, 2022
Photo credit Steph Townsend
How can dogs and humans better understand each other?
Worldwide data relating to the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that interest in pet adoptions reached a peak in April/May 2020.
I might have adopted a new dog or two myself around that time!
Unfortunately, many dogs are having difficulty adjusting to humans spending more time outside the home again.
If we can better understand the thoughts and emotions of our dogs, we can help them adjust to their circumstances.
For instance, I have often wondered if my dogs love me in the same way I love them.
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Although I cannot know what it feels like to be a dog, a hormone called oxytocin that is associated with bonding and trust increases in both dogs and humans when we gaze at each other!
This suggests that dogs form infant-like attachments with their human companions.
Canine research suggests that bonding with your dog may help them to react to you more positively and increase their understanding of your gestures and emotions.
By learning more about how dogs experience the world, we can make adjustments to improve human and canine quality of life. For instance, a good long “smell walk” could be a wonderfully relaxing and bonding experience with lasting benefits for all.
Lesley Schimanski is a faculty member in Psychology at Capilano University. She specializes in behavioural neuroscience, and she studies the brain mechanisms of learning and memory in animals and humans. Register to hear her speak in an upcoming and free virtual lecture with Capilano Universe, a series presented by Capilano University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.