We love our dogs, but do our dogs really love us? Recent research findings from Dr. Greg Berns, professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University and the author of How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, has research data to support that, in fact, they might.
Berns found that activity increased in a part of a dog’s brain called the caudate in response to hand signals indicating food. The caudate also “turned on” to the smells of humans familiar to the dog. And in preliminary tests, it activated after a dog’s owner returned after momentarily stepping out of view. Do these findings prove that dogs love us? Well, not quite. But many of the same things that activate the human caudate, which are associated with positive emotions, also activate the canine caudate. Neuroscientists call this a functional homology, and it may be an indication of canine emotions.
Only a little proof that my dog loves me is necessary for me to want to seal the deal and make sure my dog knows I love her. Although I only have anecdotal evidence to support what follows, here is my list of 10 ways to show your dog you love them.
10 WAYS TO SHOW YOUR DOG YOUR LOVE
- Time – Loving, trusting and loyal relationships take time to form and maintain. Whether that be between romantic partners, parent and child, or dogs and their special person, time is required — both quality time and quantity time. Never underestimate the gift of time.
- Exercise & Play — Dogs need to be physically and mentally stimulated. Regular exercise and play enhance your relationship with your dog and keeps them healthy. Let’s not forget: A tired dog is a good dog.
- Quality Food & Treats — Feed your dog the most wholesome, well-balanced and quality food you can afford. Keep your dog’s weight in check.
- Training, specifically positive training — Take the time to find dog trainers and dog training classes that emphasize positive training methods. Positive training enhances the bond between you and your dog and teaches your dog not just what not to do, but more importantly what to do.
- Good Vet Care – At a minimum, get an annual check-up. Don’t rely on “Dr. Google” to self-diagnosis your dog
- Know Your Dog’s Temperament – Each dog has his own personality, likes and dislikes. Get to know your dog’s and be his advocate by not putting him in unnecessary stressful situations.
- A Comfy Place to Sleep – dog bed, your bed … they really like our bed.
- Consistency – No one likes change. Dogs like a life that is consistent and predictable.
- Good Grooming – Regular trips to a fancy dog spa are not required, but keeping nails trimmed, ears and teeth clean, and an occasional bath are mandatory. Giving your dog a weekly nose to tail rub down helps to detect lumps and bumps — and it feels good, too!
- A Sturdy Leash & Collar (with ID tags) – Spend just 10 minutes on your next walk seeing the world from your dog’s perspective, tempting distractions everywhere — a squirrel darting across the street, a chicken bone lying beneath a shrub, irresistible-smelling pee on a tree … it can be anything. A leashed dog is a safe dog.
Extra love credit: belly rubs, a steak for birthdays, snuggles, and tennis balls — lots of tennis balls.
Source: Alysa Slay Co-owner, Camp Dogwood January 27th, 2014