We’ve always known that our dogs love us. We can nearly read their minds from the way they kiss us, jump on us with excitement, and wag their tails with joy. But what are they *really* thinking? What exactly is going on between those furry ears? Now it’s possible to know almost exactly what our beloved canines are thinking with brain imaging technology.Scientists found that the smell of a dog’s owner literally lights up in the ‘reward’ center of their brain. After testing just how much dogs love their owners, they discovered that dogs feel the greatest reward from the smell of their human owners over absolutely anything else.
Our pups are also ‘hardwired’ to humans the same way that human babies are with their parents. In moments of fear or worry, they’ll run to their parents to seek safety. This is unique to dogs because every other type of domesticated pet will run away instead.
Have you ever marveled at the way you’re able to communicate with your dog? That’s no accident. Our brains are wired in a very similar way to our dog’s brain in the way we understand emotion in the sounds we make. For example, higher pitched happy sounds fire off the same parts of both human and canine brains. Now it makes sense why we seem to be able to communicate so well with dogs compared with other animals.
This is specifically true for domesticated dogs. Researchers tried to domesticate some wolves to see if they behave the same. It turns out that they don’t seek out eye contact in humans the way that dogs do. Weirdly, dogs don’t even seek eye contact from their biological dog parents, only from humans.
After studying the brains of women with children and women with dogs, researchers found that both groups had the same parts of their brains firing off. Parts related to reward, general emotions, belonging, and social participation. That basically means that dogs can make us just as happy as human family members, but we already knew that!