Do You Treat Your Pets Like Children?

Do You Treat Your Pets Like Children?

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We often see people refer to their pets as 'babies', but does that mean that they consider them to be like their children? How do pets feel about their owners? Let's see what science has to tell.

Researchers study pet-human relationships

Researchers decided to study the bond that people share with their pets by observing their brain scans. The research study evaluated the response in different parts of the brain when women were shown pictures of their children versus pictures of their pets. The woman who participated in the study had children in the 2-8 age group. What researchers noticed from the scans was that the same parts of the brain that were responsible for reward, social interaction and relationships lit up when the women were shown pictures of their pets and children alike.What's interesting is that the part of the brain associated with visual processing showed a higher response when the women were shown pictures of their pets, than the responses recorded when they were shown pictures of their children. So what does this indicate? Researchers say that it could mean that human-pet relationships have visual indication as one of their strong links, while human-child relationships have both verbal and visual indications. Researchers have also found that the levels of hormones like oxytocin which is known for maternal bonding traits increase when women interact with their pets, confirming that pet parents do feel about pets the same way that they feel about their children, even if not entirely.

How do dogs view their pet parents?

A different research study decided to see how dogs felt about their

pet parents

, and especially understand if the concept of โ€œSecure Base Effectโ€ existed, as seen with caregiver-baby relationships. A Secure Base Effect is observed between infants and parents. It is seen that infants gain more confidence to explore and interact the environment around when their caregivers or secure base is around.Researchers observed dogs who were given interactive food reward toys in three cases- the presence of a silent owner, absence of owner, and presence of encouraging owner. What they noticed was that the dogs did not interact with these food toys when their owners were not present, while they showed more interest in interacting with these toys in the other two cases.Researchers then studied an alternate case where the dog was given a food dispenser toy and left in the presence of a stranger. They saw that the dog did not interact with the dispenser toy in this case either. What they concluded from the study was that dogs felt more confident to interact with their surroundings when their owners were around, much like how infants feel about their parents!

Reasons Why You Shouldn't Treat Pets as Gifts

Are you considering giving a pet as a gift this holiday season? Well, think again. Your so-called act of kindness may not turn out to be very kind for the animal. Here are a few reasons why animals shouldnโ€™t be treated as gifts.

Theyโ€™re Likely to End up in a Shelter
Statistically speaking, a lot of cats and dogs that are given as gifts tend to end up in shelters. You see, taking care and raising a pet isnโ€™t childโ€™s play. In fact, itโ€™s as hard as raising an actual child. Only this time, the โ€œchildโ€ cannot communicate with you, making it much harder.

So, the person receiving the pet as a gift might be excited, but if they donโ€™t truly understand the value of a pet, then itโ€™s the animal thatโ€™s going to get hurt.

More importantly, as the one giving the gift, you need to be more aware of the fact that youโ€™re handing over a living, breathing, sentient creature over to someone as if it were a toy. Donโ€™t make that mistake.

Possible Cruelty
Giving pets as gifts to children can look adorable when you shoot the whole thing and put up the video on social media. But things arenโ€™t that perfect in the real world. In fact, not all children like or know how to handle pets.

The charm eventually wears off and children can lose interest. Whatโ€™s worse is that they can, knowingly or unknowingly, be cruel to the pet. There are plenty of cases where children have tormented and caused physical harm.

In some cases, it might just boil down to indifference, which leads to the animal being left in the shelter or just outright abandoned.

Thereโ€™s Rarely a Happy Ending
Animal shelters already face a hard time trying to accommodate the many abandoned animals out there. If youโ€™re wondering where most of those animals come from, take a wild guess? If you guessed โ€œformer petsโ€, youโ€™d be a 100% right.

Of course, the reasons for abandonment can vary. However, pets that turned out to be unwanted gifts make up a fair portion of that group.

Once again, animals are not novelty items. These are beings that are capable of experiencing emotional distress just like humans, especially when they are abandoned. So, be kind and think twice or even thrice about giving a pet as a gift.

Having said that, it may not always be a wrong idea. If the gift is to your own spouse, partner, children and more importantly, if itโ€™s something that has been discussed and agreed upon, a pet as a gift might not be a bad idea.

But, to be on the safer and kinder side, just avoid the whole โ€œpets as giftsโ€ concept.

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