We have wondered what our furry friends think of us. Do they feel affection toward us? Do they think we are cute like we think they are?
In short, no – dogs do not think humans are cute. Dogs do not recognize us mainly by our features but by our scents. They aren’t capable of thinking whether we are “cute” or “not cute”. However, they are capable of recognizing and perceiving us.
There have been several extensive studies on dogs’ brains and how they work.
Dogs perceive stimuli primarily by scent. The scent of their owners stimulates their brains the most—dogs can recognize and distinguish their owners compared to other people. To understand how our canine companions may perceive us, we must understand how their brains work. Read on to learn about the different ways your furry friends may view you.
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A Closer Look: A Dog’s Brain
According to The Dana Foundation, although a dog’s encephalization quotient (EQ) is much smaller than humans, it still has the same basic structures and a capacity for movement, memory, and emotion. The Dana Foundation’s MRI studies found that dogs have a visual system in their brains that is activated by faces, the same as ours when we see other humans’ faces.
Some studies have shown that dogs can recognize their owner’s faces and distinguish them from others.
How Do Dogs View Humans?
Over time, dogs can associate our scents and faces with positive experiences, particularly their owners.
The way dogs view others has a lot to do with their history of running in packs. The human-animal bond is driven by factors like positive reinforcement and socialization, and the stronger the bond, the more they will become attached to you and recognize you as a part of their pack.
Can Dogs Recognize Their Owners?
Extensive studies and tests have shown that dogs can distinguish their owners from other familiar people. Their brains can recognize human faces and understand our emotions from our facial expressions.
Another study found that dogs rely more on the eyes than other facial features to recognize and differentiate humans.
Do Dogs Actually Love Their Owners?
Various studies have proven that dogs experience surges in oxytocin, similar to humans when they have positive experiences. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with love, positive touch, and positive experiences.
A study by PMC on the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health displayed that social interactions between dogs and their owners, such as stroking and eye contact, increased oxytocin levels for both parties.
Emory University conducted a study that measured brain response in dogs to the scent of familiar and unfamiliar people and dogs. Their research concluded that human scents triggered the most significant activation of the pleasure center in the brain, even compared to the scent of other dogs. The most significant stimulus was the scent of their owners.
Other Notable Studies
Dogs likely do not identify people or other dogs by appearance the way we do, but rather by scents. Dr. Berns, an Emory University neuroscientist, conducted MRI testing to explore the anatomy of dogs’ brains. He described in his book how, in a dog’s brain, there is a much longer olfactory bulb area than in a human brain.
The olfactory bulb is associated with smell, making a dog’s sense of smell much more powerful than ours. Dogs associate their owner’s scent with positive experiences and can distinguish their owner from others people.
Conclusion: What Is My Pup Thinking?
Dogs mainly perceive and recognize people and dogs by scent. The area of a dog’s brain associated with the sense of smell is significantly stronger than that of a human. They can associate certain smells with positive experiences. This is one of the ways they can build a bond with their humans.
To build a bond with a human, a dog must receive positive reinforcement and socialization. A dog can experience surges in oxycontin the same way that humans do. They experience emotions and feel love. However, they do not necessarily recognize humans as cute.
Although our furry friends don’t view us as cute, we know that they value us just as much as we value them. It is evident in many studies that our favorite companions know and recognize us.
Maybe one of the reasons you are worried is due to puppy blues?