If Our Pets Could Talk – August 2021

If Our Pets Could Talk

By Jackie Kellum

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Just saying, I Love You! to your pet means a lot, but it also causes a physical reaction within your pet. 

A UK vacation rental company called “Canine Cottages” conducted a study on dog behavior interactions with their owner. They said that the results of their study were both surprising, heartwarming, and in some cases, unexpected. They placed cardiac monitors on the dogs to record their heart rate during various owner interactions. These are some of those study results.

The most unexpected finding was the extent to which canines reacted to hearing their owners say: ‘I love you’. These words caused the biggest physical reaction in the dogs. The researchers had expected that when the dogs heard their owners come home that would have a larger heart rate response. When they were reunited with their owners after a short separation, there was only a ten percent increase.  In contrast, the dogs’ heart rates increased on average 46 percent when their owners offered words of affection. This surprising statistic demonstrates how much words of love from their owner means to a dog. These findings show that dogs clearly have a good understanding of what their human is saying and when their owner is saying something positive and affectionate.

Another interesting finding from this study was that some scenarios could decrease a dog’s heart rate.  For example, when their owner cuddled their dog, their heart rate decreased by an average of 22 percent. It is an indication that dogs find cuddling with their owner was a calming and relaxing experience.      Now that it is proven that cuddling has a calming effect, dog owners can use it as a strategy to calm their dog if it is feeling anxious, stressed, or over-excited.

The owners’ voice tone when speaking also has an impact. Results of this study showed there was a bigger increase in the dogs’ heart rates when their human used a high-pitched tone or talked to them like humans talk to babies. On the other hand, the effect was less when the same words were spoken using a low-pitched tone.

Many studies have shown that when dogs and humans spend time together, both have physical and emotional well-being benefits.  However, cats also serve as support therapeutic pets as well. Each species has its own pros and cons—pet size, house size, requires walk or not, need for attention vs. being more reserved, activity level, toilet needs, food consumption, cost, etc..

One website describing the benefits of cat ownership listed several specific reasons, including: “The stereotype that dogs are more affectionate than cats is just that, a stereotype. In fact it turns out that cats can be just as good a companion as a dog, especially for women”, and “Your choice of pet reveals something about your personality. While dog lovers tend to be ‘life of the party’; cat owners are quieter and more introverted. However, they score very highly when it comes to how trustworthy they are and how much they trust other people. Cat owners are also less manipulative and more modest”. I have both cats and dogs, so I do not lean in any one particular direction about this appraisal. You need to form you own opinion.

A fact of life—we may not outlive our pets. We have an obligation to have plans in place for their care if we become unable to care for them and when we die. Show your pet you love them, do not be in denial or procrastinate. If you love your pet, you need to take care of this plan now while you can… do not leave it to others to take on this difficult task for you.

 

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