It is often said that a dog is the best friend a human can have. And there is truly something special about always coming home to a creature who seems to love you unconditionally. But is this really the case?
Cats certainly seem to hold us in contempt and treat us like servants. But this isn’t the case with dogs. In fact, studies have shown that dogs do in fact love us back, and even see us as family.
Do dogs see humans as dogs?
Some people believe that cats see us as fellow cats who are simply inept and cannot fend for ourselves. (Despite the fact that we are the ones who feed them and clean their litter trays.) This is one of the theories behind cats bringing in “presents” of dead or partially dead creatures. The idea is that they believe the humans they live to be incapable of hunting, and so are trying to help them.
This isn’t the case with dogs. They love their humans and see them as family, but they do not see them as fellow dogs. This is mainly because of how well dogs can smell. They can tell that humans are different from dogs as they smell completely different to dogs.
Do dogs see us as parents?
Many people refer to their dogs as their “fur babies” and call themselves “fur parents”, but do dogs feel the same way? This is difficult to understand. However, it is believed that dogs do see their relationship with their human as a parent-child relationship.
Your dog will often look to you for reassurance and come to you for affection. They also know that you are the one who feeds and cares for them. So they understand your role as a loving caretaker.
That said, studies have shown that dogs can often remember their mother’s scent. They might not be able to remember them exactly (memory is a difficult concept to understand in humans, let alone in dogs).
But a study did find that, when presented with a blanket that had been used by their mother and several control blankets, dogs who had been separated from their mothers for 2 years preferred their mother’s blanket 76% of the time.
So, while they might not understand the concept entirely, they do have an understanding of care-taking and parenting.
Do dogs think we are gods?
There is a quote often shared that dogs see their human clean up after them, feed them, and care for them and think “Wow, this must be a god”. Whereas cats see their human clean up after them, feed them, and care for them and think “Wow, I must be a god”.
This quote sums up the differences between dogs and cats pretty well. But it isn’t really true. Dogs do seem to admire and love their humans unconditionally, and they will often forgive them for anything. Sadly, this is one of the reasons why dogs can be trained to be aggressive, as they want to make their owners happy.
But, dogs don’t really see you as a god. Mostly because dogs don’t have the concept of a “god” or any kind of religious or spiritual concept. But to assume that dogs see humans as gods assumes that dogs see themselves as lesser than humans, which isn’t the case.
Dogs are incredibly loyal, but they have generally been bred to be this way. Dogs have been domesticated by humans for centuries, but then were bred into the specific breeds we see today. This is why some dog breeds are more loyal than others.
Instead, dogs see humans as different creatures. But they see their own humans as part of their family, or part of their pack. They do not believe you to be some amazing ethereal being. They will be loyal to you, but this is because they love you and because you love them.
Does my dog know I’m their owner?
Your dog will have a special affection for you and be loyal to you, but they will not see you as their “owner”. This is because they do not have a concept of ownership.
Ownership is a human concept which relates to capitalism. Your dog does not know that you have exchanged money with another human in order to own them. Your dog only knows that you love them and care for them like a parent.
This is one of the many reasons why adopting is a much better idea. With an adopted dog, you won’t be their owner and your dog will know that you have rescued them. Humans don’t own their dogs any more than they own their children. You are simply their friend and caretaker. You are as much your dog’s human as they are your dog.