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Odds are pretty good that you’ve experienced the daily joy of coming home to your dog after a long day—and seeing your pup’s ridiculous, outta-control joy at the sight of you. Do you ever wonder, between all the jumps and the kisses, what makes your dog *THIS* crazy to see you?
And yes, the correct answer is, “because I’m the best and my dog knows it and we’re family for life, duh!” But there’s some interesting science behind it, too!
Of course, they wanna know what you’ve been up to.
If you wanna know what your friend’s been up to, you ask “How was your weekend?” Dogs are much more direct: they jump up and lick your face! The tastes and smells on your face say where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing—and maybe even if you’ve brought food. So your dog’s not just saying “OMG Hiiii!!!”… They’re also saying, “OMG Hiiiiii ohhh you TASTE LIKE CHICKEN GIVE ME SOME OF THAT CHICKEN THANKS LOVE YOU!”
You’re literally their favorite.
Neuroscientist Gregory Berns gave some pups MRIs to see how their brains reacted to different stimuli. He learned that (1) the scent of a familiar human activates the “pleasure and reward” regions of a dog’s brain, and (2) a dog’s brain reacts to their human the same way we react to seeing our human best friends.
In other words, “They don’t just see us as ‘part of their pack as dogs,” Berns says. “Dogs love their humans—and not just for food. They love the company of humans simply for its own sake.” So your pup’s not greeting you like any old pup: they’re greeting the return of their friggin superhero.
They can’t even handle their love for you.
Another point from Berns: Dogs don’t have abstract thinking and complex feelings the way humans do; their emotions are more direct. When dogs see you, it’s literally a *pure joy.* They’re not thinking, “Ah, Stacie, whom I love, but who recently scolded me for eating the flowers, has returned.” It’s more like: “YAAAAS IT’S MY MAAAAAAAMZ!!!!”
They’re the social type.
Every dog is different, but dogs as a species are social animals. They don’t like to be alone unless it’s their choice. Your pup might become bored after you leave, but they get an explosion of pure joy when you return. “PACK REUNITED! TIME FOR THE HUNT AND/OR NETFLIX!”
So, that just about explains it! If you’re at work, just think about how excited your pup will be when you return home. And if you’re eating something tasty for lunch, maybe save a little something for your dog. It only takes ‘em one kiss to know what you’ve brought home!
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