As an article published in the Australian edition of Business Insider recalls , we often attribute typically human feelings to animals. This is one of those classic cases of anthropomorphization (we have seen others, the origin of sensational misunderstandings )..

When we see them again in the evening, it is difficult to stop them from holding them.

But for dogs, hugs may not be the most congenial manifestation of affection. In an article published in Psychology Today , Stanley Coren, a psychologist specialized in dog language at the University of British Columbia (Canada), says that even if the man loves to embrace his four-legged friends, this kind of physical contact could be rather stressful for them.


The Linköping University experiment published in Scientific Reports involved 437 beagles raised under laboratory conditions. Each quadruped was placed in a room with a researcher he did not know and he found himself facing the same test: three transparent plastic sliding covers that concealed food, only in two cases that could easily be opened. The third could not be removed with the legs or the muzzle: the help of man was needed. Some dogs, in these situations, observe the behavior of the wolves: they try anyway, without asking for help. But the most common tendency is to seek contact with man to solve the problem.


When you praise Fido, put emphasis on it: for man’s best friend, the intonation of what we say counts as much as the meaning. The dogs’ brains process the tone and semantics of the language in a similar way to the human one, and the compliments we address to these animals activate the reward circuit only when they are in line with the way we pronounce them.

The discovery published in Science seems to suggest that the neural mechanisms of language analysis are older than we believed and not just the prerogative of primates. In an environment full of words, like the one to which domestic dogs are exposed, even an animal that is not able to speak is able to connect to the sound of a term a specific representation of meaning.

SWEET EYES. Each dog was given three minutes to try and open the covers, and each of the movements were filmed. The DNA of the 95 dogs that most often made eye contact with the man or physically sought the researcher was taken and compared with that of the 95 specimens less interested in the biped in the room. PARTLY KNOWN. The comparison between genomes has shown that at the origin of the canine desire to establish contact with humans there are variations in two regions of DNA, in particular dependent on five specific genes. Four of these genes have previously been linked to disturbances in human social interactions, including those of the autistic spectrum.