Image courtesy: Wikimedia.org
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
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
, and especially understand if the concept of “Secure Base
Effect” 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
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 shouldn’t be treated as gifts.
They’re Likely to End up in a
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 isn’t child’s play. In fact, it’s as hard as
raising an actual child. Only this time, the “child” cannot
communicate with you, making it much harder.
So, the person receiving the pet as a gift might be excited, but
if they don’t truly understand the value of a pet, then it’s the
animal that’s going to get hurt.
More importantly, as the one giving the gift, you need to be more
aware of the fact that you’re handing over a living, breathing,
sentient creature over to someone as if it were a toy. Don’t make
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
aren’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.
What’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
There’s Rarely a Happy
Animal shelters already face a hard time trying to accommodate
the many abandoned animals out there. If you’re wondering where
most of those animals come from, take a wild guess? If you
guessed “former pets”, you’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
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
it’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
“pets as gifts” concept.