In the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, we show Hachi, the main character, seeing the world through his eyes.
How do our dogs see the world? While we feel closely attuned with our canine friends — they interpret the world a bit differently from us — through a dog’s viewpoint. By nature, humans and dogs are wired to experience an incredible bond, something dog lovers are well aware of. My dog and I were attached by the hip. We went everywhere together — even to parties.
New scientific research reveals just why this connection is so strong. Pups and their humans actually influence each other in more profound ways than we ever knew. Through the science of dog cognition, we can now understand this powerful affinity.
Family of Choice
Today’s concept of family is expanding partly due to delayed marriages, children leaving home and the loss of a spouse. No matter what the reason, for many households — dogs are family. My Hachi was my “child” until he passed at age 16. And to my parents, Hachi was their “grand-dog”.
And don’t even get me started on Hachi’s over-the-top birthday parties!
With nearly half of all American households being home to a dog (44% to be exact), our obsession with our canine friends is stronger than ever — and for good reason.
As deeply emotional animals, our dogs feel experiences, making it more important than ever to bring them into our day-to-day lives. And when we do, we reap the benefits from our furry friends as they subconsciously work to make us better, kinder, and more emotionally in tune with the world around us.
Naturally, we want to learn what a family member feels and thinks.
When we see our dogs doing odd things from time to time, we figure it’s because they’re just…dogs.
But lately we’re discovering that they do these oddities for a reason. You’ve heard of the phrase “guilty dog.” For instance, we come home to a doggy mess, our pup may slink around and we think: guilty! But our canine friend is simply fearful of being punished, just like you would be.
Does your best friend feel any guilt? Does that cute boxer want your love and attention or just your sandwich? Is your Akita ignoring you on purpose? Luckily for us, innovative research into dog intelligent sheds light into the inner life of our dogs. These questions, and more, can finally be answered.
Exciting breakthroughs, pioneered by Dr. Brian Hare, Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, prove that dogs have a genius for getting along with people that’s unique in the animal kingdom.
In the past decade, studies have provided more insight about how dogs think than in the last century.
Dr. Hare shares the stunning discovery that dogs became more like human infants than their wolf ancestors when we domesticated them around 40,000 years ago.
According to Hare in Scientific America, “Other animals have their own unique genius that was shaped by nature. In the case of dogs it happens to be their ability to read our communicative gestures. We take it for granted that dogs can effortlessly use our pointing gestures to find a hidden toy or morsel of food, but no other species can spontaneously read our communicative gestures as flexibly as dogs can. It allows them to be incredible social partners with us, whether it’s hunting, or agility, or just navigating every day life. Their ability to interpret our gestures also helps them solves problems they can’t solve on their own.”
We can learn more about our pups in the Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods book “The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter Than You Think.” There’s a reason why Smithsonian Magazine named Hare one of the top 35 scientists under 36 in 2007. Based on discoveries from the Duke Canine Cognition Center along with world-class facilities around the world, we can transform the way look at and live with our canine friends.
I’m fascinated by how our furry friends think, and interested in everything that enriches the human-dog experience. In pursuit of this, I enrolled in Duke University’s free course called “Dog Emotion and Cognition” to get an introduction into the field of dog cognition and behavior. Through continuing research, we may soon be able to read our pup’s mind!
We can all relate to our dogs doing seemingly crazy things! What behaviors do you notice in your pup? But, why do you think they’re doing it?