Dog Science Series: The Science Behind the Human-Canine Bond

4 min read

Dog Science Series: The Science Behind the Human-Canine Bond - Animals Matter, Inc.

Dog owners have long known about the strong human-canine bond between them and their furry friends. For as long as there has been dog domestication, humans have felt a strong connection with their dogs. In fact, eye contact with your dog can create the same emotional feedback loop seen between a mother and her children, including introducing high levels of oxytocin.

Where does that human-canine bond come from, and why is it so intense? The human-animal bond is often strong. Humans develop strong attachments to a variety of animals, including chickens, horses, and cows. It's dogs, however, that are man's best friend—and with good reason. Several vital things can help humans bond with their dogs, which may contribute to the strong bond between them.

The Working Relationship

Historically, the dog-human bond started as a working relationship. Dogs provided humans with a variety of services, including hunting and herding. They may have served as additional guards, with strong senses that could help enhance their ability to determine whether there were any dangers around that could impact their humans. Modern domestic dogs can trace their ancestry back to prehistoric wolves, who likely provided services and companionship for humans.

That relationship, however, did not decrease when humans moved to more secure indoor areas and away from hunting and gathering. In fact, many people are more attached to their furry friends than ever.

Historically, humans domesticated dogs in at least two areas of Eurasia, according to genetic analysis of those canine partners. This suggests that humans from different regions independently concluded that these wolf-like creatures could be domesticated and that they had value as companion animals.

Modern dogs may not work the same way their historical counterparts did, but dogs still provide various services for their humans in many homes, including:

  • Services offered by a certified service dog
  • Connection and support provided by an emotional support animal
  • Simple companionship

Socialization with Dogs

One of the most critical connections between humans and dogs is that both are pack animals. Humans need to engage in caregiving relationships with others and may feel isolated or uncomfortable when they cannot for any reason. Dogs, likewise, prefer to connect with others, and those social relationships are essential for their overall well-being. As a result, humans and dogs can engage in social symbiosis with one another. This encourages that connection and bond between them.

Both dogs and humans tend, in general, to form strong social bonds. Dogs are, in fact, highly social animals who become reliant on their humans for affection and protection. Dogs can function and be perfectly content in a relationship with humans, even when isolated from others of their own kind. That high level of socialization is important to both sides of the human-canine bond. Dogs'

Desire to Please

Dogs are eager to see their humans walk through the door, and they are inherently eager to please. For many humans, it's hard to resist that clear excitement. Dogs are incredibly social in nature, and they are frequently eager to connect with their humans. As a result, people with pet dogs may experience several health benefits due in part to that deep emotional bond and connection. In fact, many people notice a drop in heart rate and blood pressure when greeted by their furry friends, which may help enhance that bond and connection between them.

Dogs' overall sociability, and that desire to please, may help humans feel, in general, much more attached to them. Canine companions generally engage in positive social interactions with their humans, which can help the human continue to feel more positive about them over time. This may be why dogs are such an essential part of many humans' lives.


Intelligence plays a vital role in the dog-human bond. Dogs and humans communicate. In fact, many humans understand "dog" better than they may first think. Many humans, for example, are familiar with the signs of a friendly dog or a frightened one. Likewise, dog owners generally become very aware of their pets' signals for "play with me" or any signals their dog might be in pain.

On the reverse side, dogs often come to understand people over time. Training can teach dogs to understand specific human commands (especially with the help of delicious treats), but dogs also frequently come to understand other words that the humans around them use on a regular basis. That overall intelligence can increase humans' ability to relate to them.

Training and Adaptability

Dogs are highly adaptable and may adjust to their humans' personalities, especially if they become part of the family as puppies. Humans' interactions with their dogs can influence dogs' intelligence, responsiveness, and even personality, much the same way humans' interactions with their children can affect their growth and development over time.

No one fully understands why dogs are such an essential part of humans' lives, though there are certainly several scientific indicators that make it obvious that dogs are just as important to their humans as their humans are to them. Are you looking for ways to make your furry companion more comfortable or to enhance their life? Check out Animals Matter or contact us to learn more about our comfortable dog beds, cushy car seats, and more.

FAQs About the Human-Canine Bond

Why do humans form such a strong human-canine bond with dogs?

Oxytocin levels increase when staring into your dog's eyes, much like how human infants bond with their mothers. These love hormones may help increase the bonding between humans and their dogs.

How much do dogs love their humans?

Dogs often form a deep relationship with and attachment to their humans. The love and attachment of a dog are often pure, and dogs may continue to love their humans despite potentially difficult circumstances.

What is the difference between a dog's social cognition and human social cognition?

Dogs tend to view humans as dominant creatures. They also see humans as part of their families. In fact, dogs may rely more on humans than they do on other dogs for companionship and affection.

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