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Are We a Dog’s Best Friend?

Of all domesticated animals, dogs play the most comprehensive range of roles: protectors, helpers, lifesavers and companions. But what do we represent to them?

Frenchie Breed-Are we a dog's best friend?

Dogs are incredible friends to people and have been companions for centuries. The relationship between dogs and people is deep and ancient: they began living together about 15,000 years ago when these animals followed the migration of humans across East Asia.

Are we dog friendly? Different species, same attitudes

The connection was natural because both people and dogs are social beings. Neither can thrive alone, and both benefit mentally (and often physically) from solid social bonds.

Although domestic dogs share 99% of their DNA with wolves, they differ significantly from the latter in their social attitudes.

Unlike the wolf, which remains a very sceptical and always defensive animal, the dog, in general, is prone to interactions even with living beings of other species.

It is a pack animal and therefore thrives on attention and affection, making it an excellent candidate to be man’s best friend.

Dog’s friend an initially complex relationship

That relationship, however, didn’t happen overnight, as new research on canid remains has shown.

Humans have lived in tension with their canine companions for long periods, often eating and skinning them to obtain skin.

Their relationship was initially one of necessity and convenience only. After that, their relationship was swinging; dogs were often prey for humans, sometimes used as guard dogs and sometimes as pets.

This information comes to us from scientists who have studied stable isotopes, i.e. forms of atoms that leave traces in biological samples, revealing details about diet, environment and other conditions.

The discovery tells us how changeable the relationship between humans and dogs was. Domesticity, after all, is a rather complex business.

Frenchie Breed-Are we a dog's best friend?
A friendship between a Human and Pet Dog.

Symbiotic relationship.

However, since dogs have been domesticated to the point of needing humans to survive, it turns out that humans themselves need them just as much to stay well.

People and dogs have developed a symbiotic relationship; it is no coincidence that most owners state with certainty that their dog is an integral part of the family.

However, since dogs have been domesticated to the point of needing humans to survive, it turns out that humans themselves need them just as much to stay well.

People and dogs have developed a symbiotic relationship; it is no coincidence that most owners state with certainty that their dog is an integral part of the family.

Are we dog friendly? When the dog is not respected.

Frenchie Breed recommends Dogs: a Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behaviour and Evolution by Ray Coppinger.

We often ask ourselves whether or not the human being is the dog’s true friend. The American biologist Raymond Coppinger, one of the most famous scholars of the origins of the dog and its psychology, in his engaging book ‘Dogs’ (Editor’s note: Absolutely must-read book), speaks unequivocally about who the dog is, why it adapts so easily to living alongside humans and what its real needs are.

Referring back to this ethology book and comparing how dogs are sometimes treated, one wonders whether, over the years, we have benefited from living with humans.

In recent years, there have been cases of violence against dogs, beaten, confined to an isolated enclosure, tied 24 hours to a one-metre chain, and so on.

But there is another form of mistreatment, namely anthropomorphisation (i.e. the attribution of human characteristics and qualities to animate or inanimate beings).

Dogs are treated as surrogates for missing infants/children; hence we can see these animals with little dresses, sunglasses, fashionable shoes and so on.

It is one thing to dress a dog to improve its health, such as winter shoes, rain jackets, post-operative orthopaedic braces, etc., while dressing your dog like a doll is quite another.

In the latter case, we could not define ourselves as ‘the dog’s best friend’ since the animal’s ethology is not considered.

Dogs are treated as surrogates for missing children.
Two Japanese Chin Dogs in Christmas Fancy Dress.

Another great scourge to consider, which could still make us wonder whether we are worthy of our special relationship with the dog, is the frequent abandonments, often for futile, sometimes solvable reasons.

Animal welfare charities are full of dogs found wandering in the territory and of actual surrenders, i.e., relinquishing one’s pet by its owner.

The reasons may be as varied as the birth of a child, an increase in the cost of living, a change or loss of a job, a change of home, the death of the owner, and so on.

Having a dog is a responsibility and a commitment (here in Frenchie Breed, we know this very well); the animal should be protected both in the psychophysical aspect (respecting the animal’s ethology and needs) and in the civic-legal aspect, according to Council ordinances that dictate the basic guidelines on keeping pets (i.e. not confined in confined spaces, not on a chain, kept on a leash in city centres, etc.).

Of course, managing a dog in full respect of its strict animal needs may require more commitment and care than is probably the case now, but perhaps this is not entirely the case.

Science explains why you treat your dog like your child

In one study, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital sought to directly compare the “functional neuroanatomy of the human-animal bond with that of the mother-child bond.” To do this, the researchers examined the reaction of some women with a simple experiment.

The experiment

Scientists examined the brain activity of a group of women. They had at least one child between the ages of two and 10, and at the same time, they also owned a pet. The questionnaires and photos showed children and animals, and the results were quite clear. However, the women saw no difference regarding their children and their pet.

According to the study’s authors, these results should not surprise the public. As the study’s lead researcher, Lori Palley of Massachusetts General Hospital, explained, “Animals hold a special place in many people’s hearts and lives, and there is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that interacting with pets can be good for the physical, social, and emotional well-being of humans.”

Pets’ positive effects on humans have split into the workplace, where some corporate offices allow employees to bring their pets to work. In our opinion, it didn’t take an elaborate neuroimaging experiment to demonstrate how much cats and dogs mean to people.

How to be a dog’s best friend

Frenchie Breed-Are we a dog's best friend?
Dogs live freely and are fed by local populations in various parts of the world.

Recent studies on dogs living freely and fed by local populations in various parts of the world (Nepal, India, Africa, Asia, etc.) report dogs that are, on average, very well-balanced and well-integrated into the pseudo-urban environment, with excellent relationships between humans, other dogs or other animals.

Indeed, in our highly urbanised cities, it would be challenging to manage packs of free-roaming dogs; their survival would be at stake due to traffic, dangers and other factors in general.

The research aims to point out that if the dog were allowed, to the extent possible, to carry out those normal behaviours that are part of its ethology, we would end up with a fulfilled animal, respectful toward us and most likely with fewer behaviour problems.

So to indeed be a dog’s best friend, we should learn to look at it from its ethological perspective and adjust to its needs, not just our own.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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