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PAWnder This: What Your Dog Thinks About You

Fredda Branyon has dedicated her life to the advancement of complementary medicine.


If you're wondering what dogs think about all day, this quick read will give you an inside look into the mind of "man's best friend."

Whenever your dog stares at you, tilts their head, and wags their tail as soon as you make eye contact—do you ever wonder what's running through their mind? Whenever they greet you with sweet doggy kisses and an excited tail, do you perceive those actions as signs of love from your pet? Wouldn't it be amazing if we could understand dogs better or even read their mind? A group of researchers from the University of Mexico had the same thoughts.

A Look Inside the Mind of a Dog

The regions of the human brain allow us to process and recognize the faces of other people. Do dogs have similar brain functions? Let's find out.

In one study, seven domesticated dogs (three females and four neutered males), were trained to stay awake, still, and unrestrained inside an MRI scanner. The researchers showed 50 images of humans and 50 different photographs of inanimate objects to the dogs. The results of the study showed that stimulation in the dogs' temporal cortices — the region of the brain responsible for producing and storing conscious and long-term memory — increased after viewing the images of humans. In simpler terms, the dogs found it more rewarding to see human faces than lifeless objects.

The brain's temporal cortex is a fundamental part of the ventral visual pathway, which helps us process complex stimuli like human faces. The same cognitive function also occurs in the brains of canines.

What Dogs Think About When They See You

There are 900 dogs in the world today, and 63.4 million households in the United States are dog owners. These loving animals are integrated deeply into our social structures, which make them ideal for safe and humane studies about social cognition.

Dogs can discern the difference between two faces, regardless if the humans look similar. For example, even if you and your twin have the same facial features, your dog can determine who's who, especially if one of you gives them more attention. Plus, speaking of attention, dogs notice it when you are happy and smiling, as well as when you are "ignoring" them.

Just like us, our four-legged companions have a "reward center" that reveals intriguing insights about the emotional capacity of dogs. This piece of information supports the fact that dogs are capable of love and that they have a special place in their hearts for people who shower them with affection. However, do not neglect them, as domesticated dogs are sensitive creatures that can suffer from anxiety and depression.


Humans and dogs have had a unique social bond for thousands of years. Like humans who can most likely identify their dog in a police lineup (not that this would ever happen), dogs also have the ability to recognize their owners. Furthermore, as a dog-owner relationship improves through the years, dogs can begin understanding the social cues we give them.

Treasure your dog and pay close attention to their needs and actions. All they want is your love (and some food). Even cancer patients can acquire healing benefits from loving pets.


BODYLEVIVE from Alabama, USA on October 31, 2020:

I have two dogs, a Pit Bull and a Labrador Retriever. I really don't know what they think about their mommie but "I think" if they could talk they would tell me how much they love and adore me. They come to me in a loving manner and I give love to them in return.