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Pet Bucket Blog

Why are dogs loyal?

 by jennifer on 04 Aug 2021 |
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Nature and nurture play a role in our dog’s loyalty, explaining how our pets evolved to be known as man’s best friend.

 

Why are dogs loyal?

Our canine companions are famous for their loyalty, but the cause behind Fido’s faithful nature is more of a mystery. An interplay of environmental and genetic factors influence our pets’ personalities and helps explain why dogs are so loyal to their humans.

Domesticated pets rely on their owners for everything from basic needs such as food and water to companionship, exercise and playtime. Our dogs are acutely aware of their position in the relationship and this provides major motivation to display their loyalty to their caretakers. By staying in our good graces, our pets affirm that their needs will be met, but the relationship between a dog and his owner runs deeper than food and water. Dogs also consider us part of their families and, like humans, they take care of their family members. These bonds grow stronger as you and your pet come to rely on each other, creating a sense of loyalty.

There are genetic factors at play, too, when it comes to canines’ faithfulness to their humans. Dogs, who are scavengers by nature, learned that people hunted and left scraps that provided their packs with food. Likewise, dogs helped humans hunt as they evolved together, eventually forming bonds that led dogs to evolve into the loyal pets they are today. Canines that excelled at co-existing with humans had more opportunities to find food. Not only did people take care of the dogs that were around more often and friendlier, but they also intentionally bred them to favor human interaction. Over time, selective breeding helped create dogs that were genetically predisposed to “tameability,” and therefore, human loyalty.


With their long history with humans, it is not surprising that dogs have actually developed empathy for their human counterparts. Researchers have found that dogs actually alter their behaviors based on their owners’ moods, showing an acute understanding of human emotions. Study have shown canines can read the emotions of strangers, too, demonstrating an empathy that lends itself easily to the loyalty our pets display. Other studies have found dogs’ oxytocin levels increase when they are around their owners. This feel-good hormone creates a boost of happiness, showing that being around their people truly benefits our pets’ wellbeing. It is easy to feel loyal to someone who brings you happiness, helping us understand why our dogs develop friendships, trust and loyalty with their human families.

 

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