Relationship between humans and dogs built on love, not training – study

"All your dog wants is for you to show them the way" through compassionate leadership and positive reinforcement.

A puppy is shown looking up. Studies have shown that oxytocin levels spike when humans and their dogs gaze into each others' eyes (photo credit: Courtesy)
A puppy is shown looking up. Studies have shown that oxytocin levels spike when humans and their dogs gaze into each others' eyes
(photo credit: Courtesy)
While dogs have been man's best friend for thousands of years, studies have continued to reveal more insights into the minds of our canine companions, curious to see just what dogs think of humans and why the man-dog relationship was so special, Phys.org reported.
But according to animal psychologist Clive Wynne, the answer is simple: It's love.
Studies over the past 20 years have revealed that dogs are far smarter than many assume. However, ascribing emotions to animals is something that was previously considered taboo, with many scholars believing that it was a case of sentimentality anthropomorphizing the animal rather than using scientific analysis.
This is not the case for Wynne, founder of Arizona State University's Canine Science Collaboratory. In his book Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You, Wynne explains that dogs have a "hypersociability" that is more than intelligence, but rather a desire for love.
This builds off research conducted by UCLA's Bridgett von Holdt in 2009, which discovered a genetic mutation in dogs that affected the gene that, in humans, causes Williams syndrome – a developmental disorder that, according to the US National Library of Medicine's Genetic Home Reference, affects one in every 7,500-10,000 people.
Williams syndrome is characterized by a moderate intellectual disability as well as an outgoing and engaging personality, appearing happy and eager to interact with people.
"The essential thing about dogs, as for people with Williams syndrome, is a desire to form close connections, to have warm personal relationships—to love and be loved," Wynne explained, according to Phys.org.
Another study cited was that of Takefumi Kikusui at Japan's Azabu University, which said that oxytocin levels spiked when dogs and humans looked at each other's eyes.
This idea is also supported by neuroscience, with magnetic resonance imaging showing that a dog's brain responds to praise as much as or even more than food.
But while dogs may have an innate desire to seek out affection, it still requires nurturing from early in life.
This, Wynne believes, paves the way to studying the history of dog domestication in a new light.
Indeed, one implication is that it debunks many commonly held beliefs on dog training, many of which emphasize the human showing dominance over the dog.
"All your dog wants is for you to show them the way" through compassionate leadership and positive reinforcement, Wynn explained, according to Phys.org.
"Our dogs give us so much, and in return they don't ask for much," he added.
"You don't need to be buying all these fancy expensive toys and treats and goodness knows what that are available.
"They just need our company, they need to be with people."


Tags love dogs