How Human is Your Dog?

Just how human is your dog? These three human-like features that most dogs possess might surprise you.

How Human is Your Dog?

Scientists believe that when dogs began becoming domesticated pets, they actually began picking up human traits. Dogs can feel jealousy and empathy. They can even read a human's facial expressions. But just how human is your dog? The following three human-like features that most dogs possess might surprise you.

Dogs Can Watch TV

In the journal, Animal Cognition, a study was published proving that dogs can recognize other dogs on TV using just their visual sense. Pretty impressive! But do dogs actually see images on TV like we do? There are a couple of differences. First of all, dogs have dichromatic vision, which means they don't see the full range of colors we do. They also register images quicker than humans.

Using those facts, DogTV was created. It's a channel just for dogs that shows mostly other dogs, using a color range more compatible for a dog's vision as well as a higher number of frames per second. The channel has modes for relaxation, stimulation and exposure and show scenes ranging from dogs relaxing in fields to dogs surfing to dogs doing dog things at home. So dogs can watch TV, but do they really like it?

That question is up for debate. Much will depend on your dog's personality and breed. For example, a hound dog who is mostly stimulated by scent might not show much interest in TV. Terriers on the other hand might find the moving objects on the screen fascinating thanks to their background in hunting small prey. There's no doubt though that at least some dogs do find watching TV to be entertaining. Take this guy for example:

Dogs Can Catch Your Yawn

One National Geographic article discussed a study in which dogs were shown to yawn more in response to their owners' yawns than to the yawns of strangers. This study suggests that dogs actually have an emotional bond with their owners and really can sense what they are feeling.

A similar study showed that people yawn more in response to the yawns of people they care about. Scientists believe when we "catch" the yawn of another person, it is a way of showing empathy to a feeling - perhaps boredom, stress or fatigue. So logically, it would stand that when dogs "catch" their owners' yawns, they are actually reacting with empathy to a feeling they perceive in their owners. How sweet is that?

Dogs Stick Up for Their Owners

Animal Behaviour published a study in 2015 that gives evidence that dogs avoid people who are mean to their owners. In the study, dogs observed someone who helped their owner and then later, someone who turned their back (literally) on their owner when he or she asked for help. In each scenario, there was a neutral person present who took no action. After witnessing the first scene, both the helper and the neutral person offered the dog a treat. In this situation, dogs didn't seem to favor either and would willing take the treat from both. However, when offered a treat by the neutral person and the back-turner, the dogs would almost always accept treats only from the neutral person and would shun the person who didn't help their owner.

Is this the dog's way of taking sides with their owner? Only further studies will say for sure, but in any case, it certainly proves that dogs don't take kindly to people who are jerks to their owners.

These are only three of the dozens of behaviors that dogs have been learning from their human best friends. Turns out, your dog is probably much more human than you ever imagined!