Are Dogs Capable of Loving People?

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Most dog owners would say that their dog feels some sort of deeper attachment towards them than simply the one who gives them food. Although, many would also argue that dogs are not able to have such feelings towards humans. Before you make your decision, hear a few opinions from both side of the issue:


When the dogs sniffed their owner’s scent, the caudate nucleus lights up”

Scientists say the bond between humans and dogs has been developing for thousands of years. Dogs have the same brain structures that produce emotions in humans as well as the same hormones that trigger different emotional states. Researchers have conducted tests and found that when dogs look in the eyes of people a chemical that is also called “the love drug” is released; similar to what happens when people look into the eyes of loved ones. Brain scans from Gregory Berns (a neuroscientist who studies dog brains) said, “When the dogs sniffed their owner’s scent, the caudate nucleus lit up.” To know what these brain scans really mean, you can listen to Dr. Berns talk about his research project, here. Aside from what Dr. Berns has found, there was a study conducted in 2016 that found that dogs can recognize our facial emotions. This is why dog owners believe their dogs can sense when they are upset. It is suspected that by your dog responding to your emotion, it is showing that it cares.


Photo of my dog, Dexter, and I.

The main argument for those that say dogs can’t have such deep feelings say that their behavior is to manipulate us for food. Researchers say that the brain scan only lights up because dogs associate their owners with rewards. Several people argue that dogs do not have souls, or “divine sparks” like humans, therefore they do not have the ability to experience true feelings. Psychologists believe that dogs are not capable of feelings the types of emotions we humans feel. They behavior is all based on reinforcement and punishment. We train them to do tricks by positively reinforcing them with treats or affection. Some dog owners say that their dog looks guilty when they do something they know they aren’t supposed to do. Researchers say that is because they have learned that when they make a particular body language their owner doesn’t punish them as badly.

We can all agree that dogs and humans have similarities and differences, if one of those similarities is to love, it is up for you to decide!

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