Does My Dog Actually Love Me Back?

Does My Dog Actually Love Me Back?

Rest assured doting dog parents, our pups love us. There is no doubt about that. You can see it in their puppy-dog eyes, toothy grins, and 100 mph tail-wags.

But, if you’re like me, you’ve probably found yourself wondering, “How much does my dog love me? Does my pup fully reciprocate my unconditional, undying love for her?”

English Bulldog and human

Thanks to researchers who investigate the canine-human relationship, we now have some more answers to your pressing questions.

According to a piece by Mic in partnership with GE, “Not only do dogs seem to love us back, they actually see us as their family. It turns out that dogs rely on humans more than they do their own kind for affection, protection and everything in between.”

Matching mom and dog
Dogs understand the world through their noses. So, scientists at Emory University conducted a neuroimaging study about odor processing in dogs’ brains. They trained dogs to stay very still so they could conduct MRI brain scans while presenting them with smells, both strange and familiar.

What they found was that dogs’ reward centers lit up like fireworks on the 4th of July when presented with their owners’ smells! It turns out that in the barrage of smells they encounter daily, dogs filter out and prioritize their owners’ smells above all. In other words, cues of the owner’s presence triggers strongly positive reactions in the dog, so it can be inferred that dogs strongly like – and even love – their owners!

Big dog with plush toys

Want more evidence? Researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest studied vocal communication between dogs and humans. They found that emotionally intense vocal sounds are processed similarly in both species.

Lead researcher, Attila Andics, told Mic:

“It’s very interesting to understand the tool kit that helps such successful vocal communication between two species. We didn’t need neuroimaging to see that communication works [between dogs and people], but without it, we didn’t understand why it works. Now we’re really starting to.”

Andics revealed groundbreaking news that will fascinate and elate any dog parent:

Dogs are the only species that when frightened, worried, or anxious, run to their humans for comfort, just like children do. They are also the only species that seek eye-contact with their humans.

While you may spend hours contemplating if your latest dating-app soulmate truly loves you, you don’t need to question your dog’s love for a second. Thanks to the efforts of canine cognition researchers, dog parents can put to rest the age-old question: “Does my dog really love me?”

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H/t Mic