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How Much Do We Love Our Dogs?
Humans seem to be wired to love dogs. Petting them immediately reduces stress and makes us feel calmer. After all, how can we resist? Our pet dogs are furry balls of sunshine that come in various sizes and breeds. They seem to have the ability to sniff our dark skies and lick our thunderstorms away. In general dogs just really have a way of making homes happier by encouraging youthfulness, laughter, and exercise, which strengthen our immune system and give us more drive to participate. Several dog owners all over the internet express their preference to dogs over having children. Some even go as far as claiming that they prefer their pet dogs to some of their friends and family. Humans do not see dogs as just animals, but as family and fur babies that we work hard and make a living for. We have grown more empathetic to dogs, because they have been our source of comfort, happiness, and unconditional love; this inherent attachment of humans to them can be traced back to 27,000 to 40,000 years ago when we first domesticated them. Humans weren’t the ones who approached dogs though; it was the other way around. Ancient wild dogs came to homes of travelling humans to scavenge for leftover food. After some time, better-natured and hyper-social ancient dogs began to associate food and comfort with their friendly interactions with humans, beginning their 8 generations long domestication process.
How Did Dogs Learn To Love Us Back?
Unlike humans, dogs don’t base their love for us on how much or little we achieve and on how we look; they just love us and we enjoy their company for it. Because of the tens of thousands of years old companionship between dogs and humans, even if dogs cannot comprehend human languages beyond gestures, tone and volume, dogs have gotten the hang of understanding humans. Dogs understand us so well that they know just when to comfort us. This is the reason why they are now being certified to aid humans in therapy. Victims of depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma are especially benefiting from their soft paws and expressive eyes.
How Do Dogs Let Us Know That We’re Loved?
How owners understand dogs even without making efforts to understand their facial expressions and body language prove that our bond with dogs are extraordinary. How they understand us and how we understand them make dogs capable of finding ways to soothe us. Dogs have been communicating with us humans in ways we often neglect to realize. Their faces move more to express their feelings better when they know that humans are looking at them. This is their way of encouraging us to pet them or rub their bellies to be able to bond with them. We don’t consciously understand what they are trying to say, but somehow, their facial expressions really work on making us hug them.
Other than facial expressions, we also understand their other forms of communicating pretty well. We can differentiate an excited squeal from a nervous one, a warning growl telling us to back off from a bark telling us that they’ve been waiting for our return all day long. Their tails also tell us a lot. When dogs wag their tails, we know that they’re happy and excited; when they tuck their tails between their legs, we know that they’re scared.
Do Dogs Recognize Us As Their Owners?
Dogs love humans, but do they particularly love their humans? Do our pet dogs really love us more than they love the good old man next door giving them treats? Sure, our smaller dogs beg us to carry them from time to time, but they were pretty friendly too to our friends who visit. Are we really special to them? Of course dogs prefer us! How we measure this preference, however, is pretty tricky. In unfamiliar places like parks or malls, our dogs stick close to us. This is because we’re important to them, especially in stressful situations such as unfamiliar ones because we’re the only familiar beings in these places. In the comfort of our own homes, we must not feel betrayed or hurt when they approach our friends who they haven’t met yet over us. This is because at home, they are comfortable and have no need to cling to us. Being comfortable allows our pet dogs to focus their instincts on getting to know these strangers. Beyond our pet dogs’ natural curiosity, their gentle sniffs are actually their way of observing and gauging whether these strangers are friends or foes, and whether they’d have to protect us. This instinct, of course, is rooted from their love for us.
Can Dogs Really Help Treat Depression?
The rate of death by suicide has been increasing all over the world. This is commonly caused by depression, a very serious medical condition that can strike anyone. Thankfully, this condition is treatable but only with professional medical assistance. It is very important to see a psychiatrist immediately after its first symptoms are noticed, because it is very dangerous. As mentioned earlier, therapies may include the aid of dogs for their abilities to help us ease our loneliness. Other than depression, dogs can also ease stress and anxiety by encouraging exercise, socialization, structure, and improving our sense of self-worth.
Healthy dogs are active dogs. Depending on their personalities, we can take our pet dogs in various activities that require movement. We can take them on dog yoga classes, morning jogs, and even a fun game of frisbee in the park. There are many ways to make scheduled daily exercises for both dogs and owners to be enjoyable. Other than keeping ourselves fit, exercising with dogs also strengthen our bond with them. With dogs, we don’t really have much choice but to move. Other than the scheduled daily exercise, they need food, and grooming, which all need movement. Exercise from taking care of dogs also increases the release of our endorphins, Oxytocin, and dopamine hormones. Endorphins reduce our perception of pain; Oxytocin promotes bonding and well-being; and dopamine promotes happiness. These are naturally released by exercising, and can help both dogs and owners have healthy lifestyles and positive outlooks in life.
Dogs thrive on routines. They require consistent feeding and exercise schedule to keep them healthy and stress-free. In a way, dogs can force structure into our lives. They need to be fed more than once a day, and they need exercise for more than once a week. Dogs need routines that will encourage us owners to try scheduling and planning activities and meals for them. Learning to schedule and to stick to consistent routines can reduce our stress levels because this allows us to actually measure our progress when it comes to giving our dogs what they need. A routine revolving around taking care of our dogs can make us feel secure. Structure also improves sleep patterns and our overall health.
3: Socialization And Companionship
Finding the perfect dog that will match our lifestyles and needs can bring happiness into our lives. Once we form bonds with our dogs, they will love us unconditionally and help us through anything. Dogs have adapted the tendency to hold eye contacts like humans do when communicating. Holding eye contact with our dogs increases both our oxytocin levels. Having dogs as companions can improve our mental state, while a home that is many barks too quiet can trigger symptoms of depression We often find ourselves talking to our pets, and their being furry soundboards can help us sort things out. Nothing beats loneliness and isolation like hearing dog footsteps running to you upon coming home. The companionship of dogs can help us live in the present and appreciate the more simple things in life like the bonds we form.
More than our conversations with our dogs, part of taking care of them requires us to talk to other people. Dogs are good conversation starters. Dog lovers often approach dogs and start conversations with the owners who take their pets on walks. We’d have to talk to their vet, other dog owners in online forums or in real life who can give us tips and tricks, and even people in pet stores, training classes, or those who our dogs make us bump into when they get too excited and pull us. A social circle, especially a well-knit one, can make us feel less lonely. Socialization with our dogs and others can ease the symptoms of depression by helping take our focus away from the condition.
Having dogs can aid in the recovery from depression as taking care of animals gives us purpose, something that people with depression feel like they don’t have. Dogs are a responsibility, but a healthy amount of responsibility improves our mental health. Responsibility also contributes to the establishment of a routine, and the structure it builds is good for our mental health. Once we get to take on responsibilities, it builds and strengthens our self-esteem. For example, being able to give a dog a bath lets us feel important and capable enough that another life form depends on us to stay healthy. Some manageable responsibility lets us feel capable to finish tasks, and this is linked to how valuable and worthy we feel.
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