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PAWndering Canines: What do Dogs Think About All Day?

May 29, 2022

Mountaineer News | The Editors

PAWndering Pets | Fur Babies

This quick read will give you an inside look into the mind of "man's best friend."

BUCKHANNON, WV - Whenever your dog stares at you, tilts their head and wags their tail as soon as you make eye contact—do you ever wonder what's running through their mind?

Whenever they greet you with sweet doggy kisses, and ear nibble or twelve and an excited tail, do you perceive those actions as signs of love from your pet?

Wouldn't it be amazing if we could understand dogs better or even read their minds? A group of researchers from the University of Mexico did just that.

A Look Inside the Mind of a Dog

The regions of the human brain allow us to process and recognize the faces of other people. Do dogs have similar brain functions? Let's find out.

In one study, seven domesticated dogs (three females and four neutered males), were trained to stay awake, completely still and unrestrained inside an MRI scanner. The researchers showed 50 images of humans and 50 different photographs of inanimate objects to the dogs.

The results of the study showed that stimulation in the dogs' temporal cortices — the region of the brain responsible for producing and storing conscious and long-term memory — increased after viewing the images of humans. In other words, the dogs found it more rewarding to see human faces than lifeless objects.

The brain's temporal cortex is a fundamental part of the ventral visual pathway, which helps us process complex stimuli like human faces. The same cognitive function also occurs in the brains of canines.

What Dogs Think About When They See You

The worldwide dog population currently stands at approximately 900 million dogs, with 63.4 million households in the United States being dog owners. These loving animals are integrated deeply into our social structures, which make them ideal for safe and humane studies about social cognition.

Dogs can discern the difference between two faces, regardless if the humans look similar. For example, even if you and your twin have the same facial features, your dog can determine who's who, especially if one of you gives them more attention. Plus, speaking of attention, dogs notice it when you are happy and smiling, as well as when you are "ignoring" them.

Just like us, our four-legged companions have a "reward center" that reveals intriguing insights about the emotional capacity of dogs. This piece of information supports the fact that dogs are capable of love and that they have a special place in their hearts for people who shower them with affection. However, do not neglect them, as domesticated dogs are sensitive creatures that can suffer from anxiety and depression.

Dogs are Awesome!

Humans and dogs have had a unique social bond for thousands of years. Like humans who can most likely identify their dog in a police lineup (not that this would ever happen), dogs also have the ability to recognize their owners. Furthermore, as a dog-owner relationship improves through the years, dogs can begin understanding the social cues we give them.

Treasure your dog and pay close attention to their needs and actions. All they want is your love (and some food/water). Even terminally-ill patients can acquire healing benefits from loving pets.

Stay Tuned, Buckhannon!

We're in the process of building a brand new section of our website that will showcase shelter animals each and every week from the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility located on Mud Lick Road in Buckhannon.

'PAWndering Pets'... Coming soon to Mountaineer News.

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