8 reasons why dogs and humans share a deep emotional connection - Hindustan Times

8 reasons why dogs and humans share a deep emotional connection

By, New Delhi
May 02, 2024 07:14 PM IST

Love your dog more than anyone in the world? Here are 8 compelling reasons why you share a special bond with your furry friend.

Humans and dogs have shared a unique and unwavering connection since time immemorial. An emotional support system for humans, our furry companions can melt hearts with their unconditional love, loyalty and companionship. No wonder your ‘pawsome’ friends perhaps sense your moods better than closest of your friends or family members and provide you company in times when you least expect them to. Dogs can decode subtle cues be it expressions, body language, voice etc to understand how their human companion might be feeling. A new research has unravelled more aspects of a dog's understanding of words. It says dogs may possess a deeper understanding of words than previously thought. They conjure mental images on hearing known words. (Also read | National Pet Parents Day 2024: Pet parenting guilt is real; 5 ways to overcome it and do the best for your furry friend)

Dogs can decode subtle cues be it expressions, body language, voice etc to understand how their human companion might be feeling. (Freepik)
Dogs can decode subtle cues be it expressions, body language, voice etc to understand how their human companion might be feeling. (Freepik)

As per research, pet parents enjoy a better physical and mental health compared to those who do not have pets as family members. Taking them for regular walks and spending time with them offer several benefits from burning calories to boosting happiness.

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Aradhya Awasthi, Clinical Psychologist, Sukoon Health in an interview with HT Digital shares ways dog can contribute to our mental well-being.


1. Anxiety management

A recent research has revealed dogs can significantly contribute to our mental health. From reducing anxiety to fostering social connections, these furry friends act as emotional support systems, offering comfort, purpose, and unconditional love.

2. Dogs are good 'face-readers'

The bond between humans and dogs goes deeper than shared walks and belly rubs. Studies suggest dogs are attuned to our emotions, picking up on subtle cues like facial expressions, body language, and even tone of our voice. Their ability to understand our emotional state is facilitated by a phenomenon called 'gaze alternation', where they look back and forth between our face and another object, seemingly trying to understand what we're looking at or thinking. This intricate communication allows them to respond accordingly, offering a comforting cuddle during times of sadness or a playful nudge when we seem down.

3. Sense of security

Research also shows that the attachment bond formed between humans and dogs is similar to the bond between a newborn and their caregiver. This deep connection fosters a sense of security and trust, providing a safe space for us to express our vulnerabilities without judgment.

4. They help beat the stress

Studies have solidified what many dog lovers already believe: short-term interactions with therapy dogs offer tangible mental health benefits. Whether in a hospital room or facing a daunting situation, the mere presence of a therapy dog provides a comforting and nonjudgmental support system. Through simple actions like petting, dogs offer tactile and sensory diversion, effectively diverting our attention from stressors.

5. They help in emotional regulation

Engaging with a dog has been shown to impact how we regulate emotions in times of stress. By interacting with a dog, individuals experience reduced levels of anxiety and distress, indicating a positive influence on emotion control mechanisms. In essence, the soothing presence and unconditional companionship of a dog can help us navigate challenging situations with greater emotional resilience.

6. Help manage PTSD symptoms

The therapeutic potential of dogs extends beyond short-term or everyday interactions. Assistance dogs have been instrumental in helping individuals manage a wide range of illnesses and disabilities, both mental and physical. For instance, for individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), assistance dogs can provide invaluable support. They can be trained to sense anxiety triggers and offer calming behaviours like nudging or licking their owner’s hand. This physical contact and sense of security can help individuals with PTSD manage their symptoms and feel safer in their environment.

Animal-assisted therapy is another modality that utilizes the therapeutic benefits of dogs. Here, the presence of a dog during psychotherapy sessions can help patients feel less anxious and distressed, leading to a more positive and productive therapeutic experience.

7. A companion for kids

When it comes to children, both parents and mental healthcare professionals agree that there are many benefits. Children often form deep bonds with their canine companions and also feel a sense of responsibility for something smaller than themselves. Positive interactions between children and dogs have been linked to improved play behaviour, social skills, emotional development, and overall well-being. Dogs provide a sense of comfort and protection, helping children learn valuable lessons in empathy, responsibility, and nurturing relationships.

8. They help hone your social skills

Having a dog does more than deepen our bond with our furry companion; it also nurtures social connections with others. Just the act of walking dogs can yield significant positive social effects. Dog parents often express a heightened sense of community and more frequent interactions with neighbours compared to those without pets. This phenomenon can be attributed to the social capital that dogs bring — they serve as conversation starters and facilitate connections with fellow dog walkers and animal enthusiasts.

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