Dogs listen carefully to what their owners say and, according to a new study, react to the voice of their owners in the same way as children when they hear their mother’s voice. This connection was described in a new article published in the NeuroImage magazine.
This means that dogs not only benefit from interactions with their owner, but also get a “neural reward” by listening to their voice. “Studying the brain mechanisms at the base of dog-owner attachment is particularly exciting, because it can help us understand this unique bond between individuals of different species,” explains Anna Gábor, the main author of the study.
Experts with dogs used the “Stranger Situation Test,” a procedure designed by some psychologicals to observe the attachment of children in their parents. The test was accompanied by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) used to observe brain activity while listening to the speech – neutral and commendable – by the owner and by a person familiar to them.
The results leave no room for imagination: the reward center of a dog’s brain is more sensitive to the owner’s voice than when he spoke another person. Dogs that were most attached to their owners showed a greater neural response to the voice of their favorite human being.
These new insights show that a dog’s relationship with its owner has many similarities to that of a child and his mother. The voice of the owners worked even in “neutral” situations, when the master spoke simply with the dog, and even when he heard his voice from afar. Not for nothing the dog is the best friend of man for practically all time.