When you interact with your pet dog, do you ever wonder what is happening inside their heads?
Do you wonder what they are thinking about?
What do they think of other dogs and animals, and what do they think of you? Let’s find out…
What Do Dogs Think of Their Owners?
Scientists say that dogs love their owners and see their owners as family.
In particular, dogs think about their owners much like parents, feeling affection and respect for them.
This discovery confirms what dog lovers have felt all along.
In this article, we will look at this particular aspect of canine behavior to help you understand your pet dog better and appreciate the special bond you share with them.
NOTE – You also be interested in this post looking at the question – why do dogs get excited you come home?
How You Affect the Activity in Your Dog’s Brain
It is evident to dog owners from the snuggles and cuddles that our pet dogs share that they feel a unique connection with us, in a similar way that we have a relationship with them.
Most dog owners feel like their dogs are like their children or family members.
Unlike other pets, dogs become a part of the family unit.
And it has been recently discovered that our pet dogs feel that way towards us too.
According to Laurie Santos, a researcher from Yale, our hunch about how our pet dogs feel – including how they think of us – is almost always accurate.
But we previously did not have scientific proof for it. Thankfully, we do now.
Let’s look at how your interactions with your dog build that special bond between you both.
Related: Can Dogs Have Tourette’s?
Your Smell Triggers Your Dog’s Reward Center
You probably already know that your dog explores and experiences the world mainly through its sense of smell.
Contrary to what some pet owners think, our faces do not leave the most profound impression on our pet’s minds.
It’s our smell.
In fact, your dog can identify your smell from a thousand scents, even from far away.
And when they do, their brain’s caudate region (the part related to reward, pleasure, and happiness) lights up.
The same also happens when your dog hears your voice, such as when you call their name or talk to them at playtime.
This indicates that your presence alone makes your dog very happy.
But it also tells how dogs rely deeply on their humans to get a feeling of gratification that they cannot get anywhere else.
This activity in the reward center of the dog’s brain does not happen with every human smell.
It only happens when it’s their human they smell, which means that it’s the bond between dog and human that triggers the brain activity.
WAIT – Before going any further.
You might like to watch the short but really interesting video about what dogs think about.
Just click to play:
Being With You Releases Happy Hormones in Your Pet
Notice how your dog’s tail wags energetically every time you walk through the door?
Yep, that’s your furry friend getting an explosion of happy hormones just because you’ve arrived.
When your pet’s reward center lights up, they get a massive dose of dopamine (which the reward center has the most receptors for, so they work hand-in-hand).
Like humans, dogs’ bodies produce and process dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends messages of pleasure, motivation, reward, and an overall good feeling.
It’s often called the happy hormone. And in humans, pleasant experiences and even food (such as chocolates) stimulate dopamine production.
In dogs, you are one of the things that stimulate a dopamine rush. Food is a very close second.
NOTE – Click here to read our post looking at: why can’t dogs talk like humans?
They Pick Up on Your Feelings
Scientific studies have confirmed that dogs can understand how we feel.
Ever had those moments when you were down, and your dog seemed to snuggle with you more or put their paw comfortingly on you?
Your dog must have known how you were feeling.
Because of the strong bond between dogs and humans, they can tell shifts in mood, though they may be subtle.
While dogs cannot process or understand complex feelings like guilt, shame, or pride, they are very good at deciphering emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, or anxiety.
And that may be because they get those feelings too!
So because they understand how you feel in general as well as towards them, they are capable of building a deeper bond with you.
In many ways, when you communicate with your dog vocally, they can understand what you mean by the cues in your voice or tone.
But even non-verbal communication gets across pretty clearly as well.
This is one of the reasons why your dog can follow your commands and instructions, too.
Eager to please, they will naturally want to do something you approve of.
However, if they have not been adequately trained, they may be unaware of what that should be.
So be patient with your pup, and refrain from talking in angry tones.
This is also why it’s not advisable to yell at your dog or talk to them angrily.
This may make them confused, afraid of you, and feel like they are not being the good boy (or girl) that they want to be for you.
Dogs respond best with positive reinforcement and proper training.
Signs That Your Dog Loves You
In many ways, dogs are like children–they like to play a lot, enjoy sleeping and eating all day and are very transparent about how they feel.
That is if you know what to look for.
If you want to know for sure if your dog loves you, here are telltale signs of canine affection:
- They look you in the eye–a lot. Dogs like to stare their human in the eye, especially when their human is talking. It’s both a sign of respect and affection.
- They follow you around. Dogs are extremely touchy (save for some breeds that tend to be a bit aloof) and want to be with you wherever you go–be it in bed or the bathroom.
- They act excited when you’re back. If you go to work every day and see a happy, tail-wagging dog beside themselves with joy every time you return, there’s no question your dog adores you.
- They’re playful around you. If they’re comfortable with you, they’ll want to play. So they’ll jump on you, lick your face, offer you a ball (and hope you get the idea that you need to throw it), and do all sorts of fun stuff.
Final Thoughts On What Dogs Think About Their Owners
Dogs don’t think the same way as humans do, partly because they don’t have a langue with words and also because of how their brains work.
However, we know from recent scientific breakthroughs that dogs love their owners and consider them part of their family.
Of course, most dog owners instinctively know this, but it is nice to have the science to back it up.
So we are at the end of this post asking the question – what do dogs think about their owners?
Thanks so much for visiting The Factual Doggo!
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!