Why humans have made dogs part of their families, according to science

They have been sharing their lives with people for more than 13 thousand years and the relationship that has been established between both species has a scientific basis

the dogs already they are part of the families for millions of humans around the world. They have been sharing their life for more than 13 thousand years with people and the relationship that has been established between both species has a scientific basis. The dog brain can recognize faces and detect the scent of their owners. This fragrance provokes a reward response that, thanks to its genetics, translates into those tail movements and licks.

Today is celebrated in Argentina the National Dog Day which coincided with the release of little Coco, who arrived from Hungary with his Argentine owner who had forgotten to renew his rabies vaccination. Senasa had prohibited the animal from entering the country because its vaccine had expired eight days and because it did not have its International Veterinary Certificate (CVI) that confirmed its optimal health.

Today is celebrated in Argentina the National Dog Day that coincided with the release of little Coco
Today is celebrated in Argentina the National Dog Day that coincided with the release of little Coco

Franco Gavidia landed at the Ezeiza airport on the morning of Wednesday, May 25. She traveled 48 hours from Hungary, passing through European cities and airports. Member of the Junior Handball Team that played in the Pan American and the 2011 World Cup, He was returning to the country to visit his daughter and her partner, who live in Córdoba. Until Buenos Aires he was accompanied by his dog Coco, a year and a half old.

Today’s national event has a story behind it. Chonino was a German Shepherd born on April 4, 1975. On December 15, 1977, he entered the Argentine Federal Police after passing the required physical and mental aptitude tests. In the early morning of June 2, 1983, Two Federal agents walked the area of ​​General Paz and Lastra avenues with their respective dogs, including Chonino, and began a shootout with two suspects.

Chonino observed that his guide had been wounded, so he lunged at one of the criminals and It caught his arm, immobilizing him and disarming him. Seeing the scene, the other criminal shot the animal in the chest. With no strength left, Chonino crawled towards his guide and died next to him.

Chonino kept in his mouth, while he was languishing, the documents that the criminal carried in the pocket of his jacket —which he ripped off during the fight— by which the aggressors could be identified who were arrested 5 days later.

"The services that dogs can provide are not only useful, but can also save lives,” said Dr. Romero
“The services that dogs can provide are not only useful, but can also save lives,” said Dr Romero.

Chonino’s remains rest in the Circle of the Argentine Federal Police. To remember it, inside the Mounted Police Precinct, There is a bronze statue and in his honor the Government of the City of Buenos Aires gave his name to a passage in the Palermo neighborhood.

Starting in 1996, at the request of the journalist and writer Cora Cané and with the support of her readers, National Dog Day is celebrated every June 2.

“Canes have been working in the service of humans for years, In addition to being sweet and loyal pets, they assist people with disabilities, help fight crime enlisted in the security forces, firefighters, in drug detection and even in disaster response. The services that dogs can provide are not only useful, but can also save lives.”said Dr. Juan Enrique Romero.

Chonino disarmed one of the criminals, but the other shot him.  Already without strength, Chonino crawled towards his guide and died at his side.
Chonino disarmed one of the criminals, but the other shot him. Already without strength, Chonino crawled towards his guide and died at his side.

An investigation carried out in 2018 by the University of Lincoln, in the United Kingdom, showed that, among their many qualities, dogs have an empathy that allows them to understand people’s moods, interpret emotions and use that information to react accordingly: pay attention, comfort, feel that denial or affirmation, etc.

The research was published in journal Biology Letters of the British Royal Society and consisted of evaluating 17 dogs that were presented with the faces of human beings they did not know, with whom they did not have a bond, and at the same time they were presented with a voice sound. The experiment wanted to test whether a dog understands or empathizes with a stranger.

The experiment caused people’s faces to show no emotion matching the voice. That is, during the first phase of the experiment the dogs were put in contradiction with faces that showed happiness while listening to an angry voice, and vice versa. Also, sad faces, with happy voices. During this first phase of the study, the dogs paid only mild attention. First they watched, and then they lost interest.

A study showed that they can understand people's moods, interpret emotions and use that information to react accordingly: pay attention, comfort, feel that denial or affirmation
A study showed that they can understand people’s moods, interpret emotions and use that information to react accordingly: pay attention, comfort, feel that denial or affirmation

However, the experiment ended when in the second phase, the emotions shown by the faces were similar to the voices. Gesture of joy and voice of joy, gesture of sadness and voice of sadness. In these cases, the dogs reacted by showing more interest and attention. According to Kun Guo, responsible for the study at the University of Lincoln, “The investigation showed that dogs do have the quality of integrating two different sources of sensory information, and of developing a coherent perception of emotions that are not part of their species, such as humans. This cognitive ability had only been detected in humans.”

What makes this finding important is that the dogs in the study did not have any previous contact with the people from whom they received the emotions, so there was no previous emotional training that could have anticipated this situation, and so It was shown that dogs manage to receive the message of our emotions, even though they do not know the person.

It was shown that dogs manage to receive the message of our emotions, even though they do not know the person
It was shown that dogs manage to receive the message of our emotions, even though they do not know the person

That unique bond between dogs and people, including their proverbial displays of affection, is the result of their genetic evolution and brain function. Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University and lead author of a recent study said: “Our work shows that dogs have an innate way of processing faces in their brains, a quality that has so far only been documented in humans and other primates.”

Berns suggested that this may help explain the extreme sensitivity of pets towards human social cues linked to evolutionary issues that surround the best and oldest friend of human beings.

Daniel Dilks, professor of psychology at the university He added: “Dogs cohabited with humans longer than any other animal. They are incredibly social. A greater understanding of their cognition and perception can tell us more about life in society in general.”

“Our work shows that dogs have an innate way of processing faces in their brains, a quality that has so far only been documented in humans and other primates” (Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa)
“Our work shows that dogs have an innate way of processing faces in their brains, a quality that has so far only been documented in humans and other primates” (Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa)

All of this could explain why humans have made dogs part of their family. “It really is an amazing question,” held in dialogue with The Washington Post, Clive Wynne, director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University. Wynne has dedicated his career to the study of animal behavior and the evolutionary relationship between animals and people. The specialist said it’s easy to see why our pets would love us: “The success of dogs (and other domesticated creatures) on the surface of the Earth is due entirely to the fact that we care for them to some extent.”

Wynne acknowledged that there is no satisfactory evolutionary explanation for that warm, sticky feeling we get when we look at our cats and dogs. This love story began with dogs, our oldest animal companions. Analysis of dog and wolf genomes, along with numerous ancient bone discoveries, suggests that Humans domesticated our canine friends between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago. Wynne thinks the animals likely started out as wolves scavenging human dumps; those who were willing to get close to people got more food and over time evolved to become more tame.

Humans domesticated our canine friends between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago.  Wynne thinks it's likely that animals started out as wolves.
Humans domesticated our canine friends between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago. Wynne thinks it’s likely that animals started out as wolves.

Over time, humans became so comfortable with dogs—and dogs liked being with us—that we took them into our homes and recruited them for our hunts. Recent excavations at sites where mammoths were killed uncovered dog bones among the remains, suggesting that dogs and humans hunted together.

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