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PUPPY LOVE: The Bond Between Humans & Dogs Explained

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There’s been a special chemistry between dogs and humans dating back thousands of years (About Dogs). Evidence of dog-human companionship has been discovered in various places across the world: ancient ruins, cave paintings and even in private pet burial sites. Where humans can provide dogs with food and stability, canines can act as hunting aids, protectors and friends. According to Psychology Today, Colin Groves of Australian National University Canberra says that, “Humans domesticated dogs, and dogs domesticated humans.”

Originally descended from wolves, domestic dogs continue to exhibit the same characteristics of their wild ancestors – particularly when it comes to forming emotional bonds with other pack members. In modern culture it’s understood that acquiring a dog is essentially adding another member to your family, and there have been many scientifically proven benefits from doing so. Our pooches can help to lower our blood pressure, reduce stress levels, keep us active and of course, in the case of service dogs, assist with mental and/or physical disabilities.

According to Lizi Angel at Canine Mind UK, the “human-canine bond is a dynamic balance” of three types of social relationships between dog and human:

1. Dominant-subordinate

Despite the powerful term, this interaction has very little to do with dominance theory or even being an ‘alpha‘ or ’pack leader’. Instead, human beings naturally take on the more dominant role due to size and intelligence. So when a dog pursues attention and closeness with its owner, the human can use their dominance to gently guide their canine towards the actions required to receive the affection it seeks.

2. Leader-follower

Although another dominant based role, the leader-follower interaction is about teaching a dog direction: jump on cue, play with a toy, to follow on a walk – it’s what a dog is allowed and not allowed to do. According to Angel, the leader’s task is not about putting a dog in its place, but rather communicating clearly with the dog and building trust between both parties through leadership and following by example.

3. Nurturer-dependent

Let’s be honest, probably the majority of dog-obsessed owners fall into this category of human-dog interaction: because who doesn’t love to make a fuss over their pampered pooch? This relationship term sees the owner providing their fluffy friend with food, praise and play in return for affectionate gestures. Trust and confidence is built through love and affection, the “cement” of their human-canine bond.

However we define our dog-human relationship, our social bond with our furry family members is built on “mutual respect and regard” (Schade, The Bark). This can be as easy as introducing small pockets of one-on-one play time, upping the amount of praise you dish out, or even implementing training exercises into your dog’s physical routine. You may be surprised at how much stronger your bond becomes with minimal effort on your part.

Source: My Modern Net

What kind of relationship do you have with your dog? Are you a tough-but-rewarding lover, or do you spend most of your time staring into each other’s eyes? Find out How Strong Is Your Bond? by taking this short quiz at the end of The Bark's article.

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