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Is A Dog Mans Best Friend?

Updated on January 5, 2013
Black Labrador Retriever
Black Labrador Retriever | Source

Labrador Retriever On Beach

There is a lot of truth in the old adage that "a dog is man's best friend" and as we all know specialist dogs have proved themselves invaluable to humanity,a prime example being in the field of helping those of us with disabilities. Seeing eye dogs aka 'guide dogs' have allowed people with impaired sight to regain the freedom to travel.

Hearing dogs for the deaf give added security and enhance the quality of life of hearing impired people. Even in the field of crime prevention, sniffer dogs are now a staple in most police forces, with canines trained to detect narcotics, explosives, firearms, CITES violations and even cash! Snow Rescue dogs since the era of the Saint Bernard, have assisted in the recovery of mountain-climbers from avalanches, are used to recover those who have lost consciousness in the wilderness and are used in water rescues also.

Even in the average domestic setting, the non-specialist dog is an invaluable asset to mankind. Dogs, by virtue of the fact that, to put it simply, can not 'talk', have evolved into a species who are keenly tuned into understanding verbal and non-verbal communications from humans. What our canine friends lack from not having the power of speech, they make up by having hard-wired, much keener senses.

Dogs have learned to read humans' body language, facial expressions, emotions and combined with their heightened sense of smell, sight and hearing, this makes for a very intelligent and loyal domestic species. Many people, mistakenly, attribute dogs with an almost uncanny insight into humans but this belief can be easily de-bunked by the scientific fact that once one 'sense' is removed, the others tend to over-compensate for that loss and a similar phenomena can be observed in dogs. Pavlov knew his subject well when he used dogs in his psychological research.

Practical Benefits of Dog Ownership

Dogs will hear callers at your home a long time before you will. I have personally observed our family dog being able to decipher our car's engine from quite a distance away and distinguish it from the myriad of other cars that pass our home or park nearby. With a dog you will have no real surprise callers as a dog will have heard visitors approaching a longtime before a human will, hence their value as 'watch dogs'.

A dog must view the world in a completely different way to how humans perceive it and this must be greatly coloured by their heightened senses of smell and hearing, for instance, a dog knows it's way home but the 'mental map', that becomes second nature to both humans and dogs, is compiled in very different ways. All dog owners will testify that their pet knows when they are being discussed, aural triggers are definitely used (when I was discussing this article with my family our dog had it's ears cocked and went into canine 'listening' mode with tail wagging!)

Dogs' loyalty to humans is legendary and tales like 'Greyfriars Bobby' are actually fact based. Treat a dog with kindness, feed it and care for it and it will defend you until the death, if need be. A dog enjoys being a dog, it is when people start treating them as 4 legged humans that problems start. Likewise, as it is now widely accepted that dogs have hardwired pack instincts, problems arise when an owner allows or forces their dog to take over the role of pack leader. Well known Dog behaviour Gurus universally accept and preach that a dog who knows their place in the family/pack's pecking order is a happy dog.

The benefits of having a dog are actually so numerous that they are near unquantifiable but it is suffice to say that a dog will never be overly judgemental, prejudiced, ungrateful or disloyal, if you treat them with just a little kindness and consideration. A dog really is man's or women's best friend....


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