We, as humans, have to keep changing our definition of what makes us human. For example, we used to claim that one way we are differentiated from other animals is through our use of tools. Until we discovered that some other species do use tools. The more we learn, the more we discover we share a lot more with other species than we used to think. So what does differentiate us from other animals?

I recently read Pat Shipman’s book The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human. Ms. Shipman is a paleoanthropologist who hypothesizes: “that our connection to animals is ancient and fundamentally important because it drove humans to our three great behavioral advances: the making of stone tools; the origin of language and symbolism; and the domestication of animals.”

This book is primarily about human evolution and how our connection with animals has shaped who we are today as a species. Since dogs were domesticated long before any other animals, the domestication of dogs figures heavily into this book, which is what caught my interest. Ms. Shipman suggests that humans are genetically disposed to a connection with other species, something that is not commonly seen in any other species. We might see occasional stories of two animals of different species becoming “friends” but nothing that compares to the propensity among various human cultures for keeping “pets” of various species. Anthropologists find this in most cultures throughout the world.

According to Shipman:

“If being connected to animals is a genetically based behavior typical of humans, then there ought to be observable benefits to being with animals – and there are. . . Pets. . . fulfill a need in our lives. . . Pet owning individuals have better health, more social contacts, more exercise, and a better outlook on life than non-pet owners. Simply being with a pet lowers the heart rate, lowers cholesterol, and lowers anxiety in most people. Being with pets also raises oxytocin levels, the hormone that is key in bonding with our own infants and our mates. Increased oxytocin levels produce a feeling of calm and peacefulness, and heighten our sensitivity to nonverbal communication. Meg Daley Olmert, in her book Made For Each Other, suggests that oxytocin was the ‘main biological ingredient’ underlying animal domestication and our affection for animals.”

Ms. Shipman certainly gives us something to think about. I think I will ponder it while I snuggle with my dogs.



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Training tip – incorporate quickie training sessions into your dog’s routine thelightofdog.com/training-tip-incorporate-quickie-training-sessions-into-your-dogs-routine/ ... See MoreSee Less

Training tip – incorporate quickie training sessions into your dog’s routine https://thelightofdog.com/training-tip-incorporate-quickie-training-sessions-into-your-dogs-routine/

5 hours ago

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Taz, a border collie who was a recent boarder with us is posing for a pic next to a pumpkin bush on our farm. We'll grow these pumpkins and use them in our dog food thelightofdog.com/dog-food-products/dog-food-products-main-page/ ... See MoreSee Less

Taz, a border collie who was a recent boarder with us is posing for a pic next to a pumpkin bush on our farm. Well grow these pumpkins and use them in our dog food https://thelightofdog.com/dog-food-products/dog-food-products-main-page/

22 hours ago

The Light Of Dog

Winnie, a Goldendoodle, is showing off her skills in dog parkour class by sitting on this log.

We used this pic as the feature pic for a post and video titled "Does your puppy know “Sit”? Are you sure? (Hint: it’s about the context!)"

We think of Sit as a pretty easy cue to teach our dogs. For some dogs, it might even be the only thing they learn.

But here's something to think about. . . What is your expectation for Sit?

Most people stop at the first step, which usually is: sit for a brief second directly in front of me when I have a treat in my hand.

But have you thought about where you go from there?

thelightofdog.com/does-your-puppy-know-sit-are-you-sure-hint-its-about-the-context/
... See MoreSee Less

Winnie, a Goldendoodle, is showing off her skills in dog parkour class by sitting on this log. 

We used this pic as the feature pic for a post and video titled Does your puppy know “Sit”? Are you sure? (Hint: it’s about the context!) 

We think of Sit as a pretty easy cue to teach our dogs. For some dogs, it might even be the only thing they learn. 

But heres something to think about. . . What is your expectation for Sit? 

Most people stop at the first step, which usually is: sit for a brief second directly in front of me when I have a treat in my hand. 

But have you thought about where you go from there? 

https://thelightofdog.com/does-your-puppy-know-sit-are-you-sure-hint-its-about-the-context/
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