Have you ever felt like you and your fur baby were “in sync”? Do you wonder if you’re actually “in sync” as often as you think? Well, a group of researchers decided to dig into this topic, and the truth is…dogs do look toward their humans as the lead.
Dogs seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to us humans, right? They can tell if we’re angry, sad or happy. Most times they can tell when we’re ready to play or when we’re ready just to cuddle up and relax. It sometimes feels like we’re just “in sync” with our dogs.
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We build cohesive, social constructs in our lives through behavioral synchronization. Other people learn about us, we learn about other people, and it leads to a feeling of being “in sync.” Many social creatures tend to do this. Dolphins have been found to breathe in synch. When people are walking together or sitting in rocking chairs, they’ll tend to synch up their footsteps or rhythm as they rock.
Having this in mind, a group of researchers wanted to see if our furry friends followed these same patterns of synchronization. Since they wanted to include different species, they chose a total of 48 dogs and owners. Twenty-four were Molossers (St. Bernards, Mastiffs, and Bulldogs) and twenty-four were Shepherds. Each dog was given a chance to explore an unfamiliar room for 10 minutes with their owners.
After being able to explore the room, the owners were told to either stand in a specific place or to walk around the room, but they weren’t allowed to look at or communicate with their dogs. Researchers then watched for the dogs’ reactions. They noticed that the dogs, with no eye contact or communication, synced up with their owner’s behavior. If the owner stood still, the dog stood still next to them. If they walked around the room, the dogs followed by their side. Over 80% of the time, the dogs were less than a meter from their owner. This means that despite no direction or command, the dogs had activity and location synchrony with their owners.
The researchers noted that when people and dogs walk together indoors, they mimic two people who walk side by side. They walk independently of each other, but they still are in sync. But it’s also important to note that this is probably not the case in most dogs’ homes where they are more familiar and comfortable with their surroundings. In this case, there’s more of a desire to do as they please. For instance, as I sit and write this, one of my fur babies is looking out the front door, and the other is snoozing by my feet.
The researchers aren’t sure as to why dogs sync with us, only that they do. They theorize that it could be the way a dog instinctively combats anxiety…assuming dogs would be anxious in an unfamiliar place with no communication or feedback from their owners. They also theorize that since most dogs walk on leashes, they merely stayed by their owner’s side as a force of habit.
But maybe our dogs love us so much that they just want to be by our side as much as possible. I mean…that makes perfect sense to me!
How “in sync” are you with your fur baby? Let us know in the comments below!