As dog owners, our life is dedicated to our puppy. We love our pup as much as we love our children. Many of us go as far as saying, “I’m a dog mom!” So, while we may label ourselves our pup’s mom, does the belief go both ways? This is why many people ask, “Does my dog think I’m his mom?”
How Dogs Form a Bond with Mom
Dogs establish a bond with their mom shortly after birth. Puppies are heavily dependent on their mother for food and safety. The feelings of comfort and security are so strong that research shows canines can remember their mom up to two years after being separated.
How does a dog remember their mom? By scent! Yes, they remember the unique scent of their mom.
Dogs have 300 million olfactory cues in their nose. For comparison, humans only have 6 million. The strong sense of smell is what makes it possible for dogs to remember their mom.
The Bond Between Dog and Owner
When a puppy leaves his mom, the pup’s owner takes over the responsibility of providing comfort and security. Just like the puppy’s mom fed and protected him/her, the owner feeds and protects the puppy.
So, when you ask, “Does my dog think I’m his mom?” Yes, in a way, your furry friend does think you’re his mom.
Much like how we know that a dog remembers his mom for over two years through scent, researchers have been able to show that dogs can visually identify their owner.
Research Supporting The Bond Between Human Moms and Dogs
Many studies have been conducted that show dogs have a connection to their human mom.
Dogs Gaze Longer at Owners
Outi Vainio DVM at the University of Helsinki showed pictures of people to dogs. Dogs gaze longer at the pictures with their owners than the others.
Identify Owner from Strangers
Another study showed that dogs can pick their owner out of a group of strangers using their sight and sense of smell.
Sense of smell may not be as powerful in humans compared to remembering the scent of canine moms. Paolo Mongillo from the University of Padua published the results of his study in the journal, Animal Behaviour. Dogs watched their owner significantly longer than they watched strangers. When each person (strangers and owners) wore a paper bag over their face, the dogs didn’t look at their owner as long. These results indicated that the majority of dogs didn’t recognize their owners by scent, but instead, by sight.
Owners Are Pack Leaders
VCA Animal Hospitals reports that dogs view their owners as pack leaders. Wild dogs live in packs with a leader. The leader is reliable, dependable, and strong – exactly what a dog mom is, right? As a dog mom, you are the leader of the pack.
Hide Behind Mom
Studies have found dogs hide behind their owners when afraid in unfamiliar environments, just like kids often do.
Feeling Calmer Around Owner
Dogs often feel more relaxed and confident with their owner than without them, according to a 2013 study. Most people see this when they take their dog to a dog park, doggy daycare, or vet’s office.
Dogs React to Dog Mom’s Emotions
Research shows that dogs become anxious when their owner feels anxious, scared when they are afraid, or happy when they are happy. Just like how children often respond to how their parent’s feelings, dogs do too.
This is the perfect place to bring up the point Dog Ownership Guide lives by (albeit reversed) – Happy Owners ~ Happy Dogs.
Dogs Run to Owners Like Children Run to Parents
A 2015 study investigating canine social behavior shows that dogs interact with their owner just like children do. When they become scared or anxious, they look to their owner for security and will run to them if possible. This is known as the “secure base effect.” Dogs know they are safe if they have a secure base – their owner.
Showing Your Pup You’re His Mom
If you ever feel as though your furry friend doesn’t think you’re his mom, you can always strengthen the bond in the following ways:
- Cuddle your pup close to your body more often. This closeness and comfort will remind your pet of his mother.
- Be sure to provide food and water when hungry and thirsty. Covering basic needs is what your pup’s mother did, so ensuring you’re doing the same makes you like the mother.
- Pet your furry best friend on your lap just like his mother licked him when a puppy. Be sure to pet him on the head and body just like his mother would with her tongue.
- If you’re a man, you can be your dog’s mom (or dad) as well. Just because the saying is “man’s best friend” doesn’t mean that you can’t be the parent.
- If you’re caring for your dog with your significant other, understand that when there are two parents, the dog will likely bond with one more than the other. Unfortunately, when there is more than one person around, the dog may not choose the dog’s owner as of the “mom”. Be sure to share this with your family so they know what to expect with the relationship between humans and dogs.
- Female dogs may show more affection towards their human mom than male dogs, so don’t think just because your furry friend isn’t affectionate you’re not his mom.
Unfortunately, dogs can’t talk. If they could, we would know for sure whether or not they think we are their mom. Chances are, you are your dog’s mother in his eyes.
Feel that love in your heart and know that no matter what – you’re his best friend because there’s no one else on this Earth that he would rather have comfort and protect him.
Pick up your pooch, place him on your lap, and love him just like you do your human children. You will see that the love will be returned – just like your kids do.