The Human-Canine Bond
History of the First Human-Canine Bond
It is believed that modern dogs began to branch off from their evolutionary ancestors, the modern wolf, between 25,000-40,000 years ago. During this time, modern-day humans and wild wolves began cooperating to the benefit of both species. The wolves would offer protection and alert the humans of potential predators, in return, the humans left scraps or even directly fed the wolves. Not only did these early relationships predate agriculture, there is evidence to suggest that different geographic groups of early humans were domesticating dogs at similar times. These early relationships were the primal version of today’s Human-Canine bond.
Canine Companionship and Oxytocin
There are many benefits to owning a dog, or multiple, as pets. They offer companionship, an excuse to exercise, bursts of laughter and playfulness, they keep us young at heart, and they require diligence and ownership which can be taken to other aspects of life. These are immeasurable, but very real benefits of creating a bond with our pets.
One thing that has been measured, and has been shown in both humans and animals, is the increase in Oxytocin when bonding with our dogs in a positive way. Oxytocin is a hormone created by the human body which is strongly linked to emotional states. This hormone is often associated with baby-parent bonding or with people who are in a new relationship. What science has proven is that Oxytocin is also found at higher levels in both dogs and humans who have strong positive bonds. Even an activity as simple as staring into your dog’s eyes can cause an increase in oxytocin. This positive feedback look can explain how dogs have been able to secure a permanent spot as man's best friend for the past 10,000 years.
- Anti-stress effects
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced cortisol levels
- Increases pain thresholds
- Stimulates positive social interactions
- Regulate emotional responses
- Improve trust, empathy, and bonding cues
- Supports the enhancement and solidification of emotional memories
- Supports sleep
How to Improve the Bond With Your Dog?
Now that we know the history of the canine-human relationship, and understand that the bond between them has scientific benefits, let’s discuss some ways to improve that bond. The most important thing you can do is look after the health and wellness of your animal. Here are a few things you can do to increase the bond with your dog.
Exercise - Just like humans, your dog needs to stay active. We know they are descendants of wolves, let them express their inner fire. It’s obvious when we see their excitement at arriving at the park that dogs love to let loose.
Sunshine - measured doses of sunshine are critical to your dog's health. They help support your pet’s natural circadian rhythm, which can lead to better sleep.
Sleep - although we think our pets can fall asleep anywhere, they would prefer a quiet, comfortable place to sleep. If possible, make this place away from your own bed so that you and your dog can stay cool and comfortable during the night.
Work - Today’s dogs were almost all bred for a purpose, whether herding, hunting, digging, or even running as fast as the wind. Give your dog the outlet it needs to fan its inner flame.
Eat - Nutrition is as key for dogs as it is for humans. We know our pets evolved eating the entire animal, nose-to-tail, so why would we deny them that today? When possible, include organ meats in your pet's diet.
The items above may seem trivial to some, but they are crucial to the health and wellness of your pet. Start small with daily exercise and proper nutrition, and work up to the full list of Canine Commandments. These free tools will help you get the most from your pet and yourself.