New Studies Show Humans Love Dogs More Than Other Humans
What if a human and a dog stood side-by-side and both needed help, but you could only choose one. It wouldn’t be an easy decision, would it? Some studies reveal when it comes to feeling empathy, many people pick pooches over other people. Does that surprise you?
Sociologists and anthropologists from Northeastern University and the University of Colorado pondered why, when reports of animals in need make headlines, the outrage and response level is sometimes higher than when tragedies impact humans.
The researchers asked 256 college students to read a fictitious news report, and reveal their levels of empathy for a brutally beaten adult or child versus an adult dog or puppy.
The results: The undergrads felt more empathy toward the dogs than the adult human. The study says, “We also found more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans. Age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims.”
The study also mentions a British charity which also conducted its own dog-versus-person empathy experiment. It ran a fundraising campaign featuring two versions of the same ad.
According to the research, “Both contained text that read, ‘Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?’ One version featured a picture of the real Harrison Smith, an eight-year-old boy diagnosed with Duchenne (Muscular Dystrophy). The other featured a stock photo of a dog.
When the ads ran on MSN’s United Kingdom website with links to donate to the charity, the one depicting the dog attracted twice as many clicks as the one with the boy (230, compared to 111).”
Why would people pick pooches over people? The study pontificates: “It may be that many people appraise dogs as vulnerable, regardless of their age, when compared to adult humans. In other words, dogs, whether young or adult, are seen as possessing many of the same qualities associated with human babies; they are seen as unable to fully protect themselves, compared to adult humans.”
Psychotherapist Justin Lioi agrees. “We are more able to empathize with someone whom we deem to have little blame for their circumstances,” Lioi told I Love My Dog. “Dogs and babies are the definition of didn’t-ask-for-this and we are more likely to rush to support them.”
Dr. Kathrine McAleese, a sociologist and systemic psychotherapist, has clients who work extensively with dogs. She said she sees this phenomenon regularly. “People who fit this study’s outcomes will often view animals as innocents and humans as not having the same purity,” McAleese told I Love My Dog. “When I ask them why they will spend money on their dog’s health, fitness, nutrition, yet not on themselves, the overwhelming answer I get is ‘because my dog deserves it.’”
McAleese adds dog trainers have told her how they struggle to have patience or empathy for the owner, yet have endless patience for the dog. “Why? The dog can’t speak up for itself, so they are the dog’s advocate,” she said.
The study results didn’t surprise certified behaviorist and animal trainer, Russell Hartstein either. He told I Love My Dog: “Dogs provide unconditional love and many times people form stronger bonds with their pet than with another human.”
Hartstein said many of his clients take such good care of their pets, that it’s similar to how some care for their children. “From going to school for behavior and training, health, nutrition, wellness, enrichment and play, people form very close intimate bonds with their best friends.”
What do you think of the study? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your comments below and let us know!
Contributed by: Mary Schwager, aka, WatchdogMary , a TV and print journalist that proudly watchdogs for animals. She’s honored to have won 14 Emmy, 7 Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards for investigative reporting & writing.
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Does this sound familiar? Your dog suddenly starts making loud snorting sounds—over and over again, in quick succession. Do you start wondering, did they swallow something they shouldn’t have? Can they breathe?! Chances are, you’re experiencing the infamous “reverse sneeze.” Veterinarians often see dogs whose owners rushed them in for an emergency appointment after finding them standing with their elbows apart, head pulled back, and eyes bulging as they snort or gasp repeatedly. Yet for the vast majority of these dogs, a vet visit was unnecessary.
Reverse sneezing looks and sounds scary the first time you encounter it. However, it’s a fairly common and harmless respiratory event for dogs.
Read on to learn how to identify reverse sneezing, what causes it, and how to tell the difference between a harmless reverse sneeze and something else.
What is reverse sneezing?
A reverse sneeze is pretty much what it sounds like: a sneeze that happens in reverse! The above video is a good example of what it looks and sounds like.
In a regular sneeze, air is rapidly pushed out through the nose. In a reverse sneeze, air is rapidly, and noisily, pulled in through the nose. It occurs in spasms lasting anywhere from a few seconds up to a minute and sounds like snorting, snuffling, and even gagging. See the above video for an example.
Because of the sounds their dogs make while reverse sneezing, many people mistakenly think their dog is choking. However, a reverse sneeze is almost as normal and harmless as a regular sneeze.
There’s no single cause for a reverse sneeze. Like regular sneezing, it’s often triggered by an irritation or inflammation in the nose, throat, or sinuses. It often occurs when dogs wake up from a nap, or after eating, when their breathing pattern may have rapidly changed. It’s also caused by irritants in the airway—anything from dust to an inhaled hair!
Some dogs experience more frequent reverse sneezing in springtime when the air is full of pollen and other allergens. Others reverse sneeze more in the winter, when sudden temperature changes between outdoors and indoors cause the nasal passages to contract.
Another common cause of reverse sneezing is pressure on the throat and neck. A too-tight collar, or straining against the leash, can irritate the throat and lead to a reverse sneeze. That’s just one more reason to consider a harness for your dog.
Finally, some dogs reverse sneeze after exercise, or when they’re overexcited. This is particularly common among brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breeds like pugs and bulldogs. When they get worked up, they may inhale their elongated soft palates into the throat, triggering an episode of reverse sneezing.
Reverse sneezing is super-common, and it won’t hurt your dog. However, some dogs become anxious during a reverse sneezing episode, and a lengthy episode may be uncomfortable.
You can help your dog recover from a reverse sneezing episode by remaining calm yourself. If you get anxious, your dog’s anxiety will increase, too. So, stay calm, and show your dog there’s nothing to panic about.
If your dog is experiencing a particularly long episode of reverse sneezing, you may be able to ease or end the episode by:
Gently massaging your dog’s throat
Briefly covering their nostrils, which will cause them to swallow and potentially stop sneezing
Depressing their tongue with your hand to help open airways
Some vets suggest gently blowing in your dog’s face
In the vast majority of cases, there’s no need to intervene. Reverse sneezing doesn’t last long, and your dog will be perfectly normal after it stops.
When you should go to the vet:
As mentioned, reverse sneezing rarely requires veterinary treatment. As soon as the sneezing episode stops, the situation is resolved. However, if episodes increase in frequency or duration, you should call the vet just in case. You should also seek treatment if your dog’s reverse sneezing is accompanied by other respiratory symptoms or if they have any unusual discharge from their nose.Occasionally, chronic reverse sneezing can be a symptom of more serious issues. These include nasal mites, foreign objects in the airway, respiratory infections, and tracheal collapse. If you’re concerned about the intensity of your dog’s reverse sneezing, take a video to show the vet. They’ll be able to determine potential causes.Most dogs experience episodes of reverse sneezing at some point in their lives. For the vast majority of dogs, it’s a common, temporary, harmless reaction with no lasting aftereffects. Of course, it still sounds unsettling to our human ears! But now that you know what reverse sneezing is, you’ll be less likely to make an unnecessary vet visit.