Researchers estimate that the history of humans and dogs co-existing reaches back some 15,000 years (though there are some disputed remains dating from 36,000 years ago!). Archaeologists have found lots of samples of canine fossil remains along with human remains at prehistoric sites. The dog was the first domesticated species.
Modern domestic dogs evolved, by a number of different paths, from Asian wolves. The ancestors of our dogs seem to have chosen to live in mutually beneficial relationships with humans for food, warmth, and eventually, companionship. The theory is that the boldest of wolves scavenged leftovers discarded by early humans on the edges of settlements. Over generations, the wolves’ offspring became braver still and ever closer to the people they relied on. Over time, humans viewed the animals as natural allies and began breeding them to be better hunters and herders.
It is thought that those creatures with the softest temperament, the intelligence to learn human social cues, the ability and willingness to help with human hunts and provide protection for their human companions, were encouraged to remain with the human family-tribe. But wolves with the ability to adapt to living with humans were very rare. Genetic testing has shown that 90% of the domestic dogs living today have descended from only 3 early female wolves. So the animal we know today as the domestic dog has evolved as a human companion from its beginnings: humans and dogs have become “hardwired” by evolution for a unique interrelationship.
Dog human relationship emotions go deeper.
Scientists have found that dogs and owners experience surges in oxytocin, when they look into each other’s eyes. A rush of this hormone – which is responsible for helping people bond – could help to explain why humans and dogs have been best friends for these thousands of years, and why the dogs have become so welcomed in for more than just their hunting/protecting skills. Scientists found that dog owners experienced a surge of oxytocin when their pets gazed into their eyes, a dramatic phenomenon that was mirrored in the animals themselves. The same hormone has been shown to spike in mothers’ brains when they look into their children’s eyes. The physiological response drives maternal caring and strengthens the bond between mothers and their babies.
It is believed this is why we now look to the animals being one of our own and treat them this way, as we all know offering them scraps from the table is not good for them which is why Country Pursuit offers food that dog owners will find as appetising. Products such as Country Pursuit Muesli are something most people would be happy to find on their own plate, so are more than happy to feed their dog.
The latest finding suggests that dogs have tapped into this ancient biological mechanism, and through it reinforced the ties that have existed between humans and dogs since the animals were first domesticated thousands of years ago when those brave wolves did more than just pick up the scraps and left-overs on the outside of the camp walls, but ventured inside to meet the human occupants and start to form this great, great bond.