Why Your Dog Thinks You Are The Best Thing Ever

It may be more than just your winning personality.

Posted Sep 29, 2016

Stephanie Sarkis PhD
Source: Stephanie Sarkis PhD

"Be the person your dog thinks you are." How true this seems to be.  Dogs are always happy when you walk in the door.  They follow you from room to room.  (I have a pack of three that follow me.)  They love to sit next to you and snuggle.  

"I'm awesome," you think.  "And I'm the bringer of food and treats.  No wonder my dog loves to be around me."  Well, yes...and there are also other reasons.  It turns out there are five dog genes that are related to your dog's ability to socialize.  

Humans bred dogs to be domesticated - in other words, reliant on humans.  This makes it even harder to understand why some abandon their dogs - we are the reason they are so attached to us.  Wolves, dogs' ancestors, have, among others, two characteristics that are very different than dogs. 

1.  Wolves shy away and hide from humans.  

2.  Wolves don't go to a human for "help" with a task, as dogs do.

So what is it about dogs that makes them turn to us when they need help?  In a study, beagles were given a board with three holes in it, and a plastic cover over each.  There was a treat in each hole.  The beagles needed to slide the cover over to get to the treat.  Two out of the three covers moved easily.  The third one didn't.  What do dogs usually do in this situation?  They go to a human for help.  

Most of the beagles were more likely than their buddies to turn to humans for help (being "sociable") during this task. Others were more wolf-like, and tried to solve the problem on their own. There were distinct genetic differences between the "dog-like" beagles and the "wolf-like" beagles. In fact, the more social dogs had differences in two chromosomal regions, specifically in five different genes.  Four of those genes in humans have been found to be connected with disorders like ADHD and autism.  

Humans have bred these genetic variations into dogs to make them more domesticable.  So, in essence, you (well, your ancestors) are the reason why your dog loves to be around you so much.  And because you're awesome. 

The article referencing this study can be found here

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