They’re not just our “pets”. They’re our family members. We give them food, shelter, and sometimes we even clothe them! In return, they love us unconditionally. Being a pet owner is pretty incredible!
Domestication: A Brief History
A 2012 article from Psychology Today explains why cats and dogs feel differently about their owners. It all comes down to each species’ story of origin.
Since most cats take care of breeding themselves without human intervention, they are not “completely domesticated.” They bond with their owners, but are also happy to be on their own. Some don’t even get along with their fellow felines!
In contrast, dogs are more domesticated than cats. Take a look throughout history and you’ll find cases of dogs being bred by humans for specific purposes like hunting. Over time, dogs have developed a deeper understanding of human behaviour and are able to pick up on their body language. As a result, a dog’s relationship with their human is a key part of their life. They are man’s best friends after all! This also explains why many experience sadness when they are left home alone.
Early Humans & Animals
Now, let’s think about the human perspective. As a pet owner, you already now that good things come from being in the company of a furry companion. But did you know that the reasons for this could be traced back to early humans? American biologist, E.O. Wilson, hypothesized that our earliest ancestors grew close to animals in nature as a means of survival. Pretty cool, huh?
Why Do We Love Our Pets So Darn Much?
The short answer: They’re so cute!
The long answer (according to psychology): Humans have bred pets to have physical features, personality traits, and skills that appeal to them. As a result, we have a natural instinct to nurture and protect them (sometimes to the point of treating them like human children). Having another living creature that is completely dependent upon us makes us feel validated. Plus, they love us unconditionally!
Have You Bonded With Your Pet?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your pet only have eyes for you?
- Are you the first one they look to before setting off on an adventure?
- Do you receive an exuberant welcome when you return home?
- Do they look up to you while on a walk?
- Do they happily welcome food and playtime as forms of positive reinforcement?
- Can they relax when they’re around you?
If you answered, “yes,” to any of the questions above, way to go! These are all common scenarios that demonstrate the strong bond between a pet and its human. Of course, these aren’t the only examples. There may be other ways to tell that you and your pet have bonded that are unique to your relationship. Every relationship has its quirks and inside jokes!
The human-animal bond has evolved over time and will continue to do so. To develop an even deeper bond with your pet, all you have to do is be there. Whether it’s a rousing game of fetch or a quiet evening snuggling on the couch, quality time will always be your pet’s favourite way to say, “I love you!”