Why Are Dogs So Loyal?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 2-year-old Stearns County boy wandered away from his family’s home over the weekend.

Two of the boy’s family dogs followed him and stuck by his side until the Minnesota State Patrol found them all with a heat-seeking device on their helicopter, According to the Lt. Vic Weiss with the Stearns County Sheriff’s office.

Weiss says he thought the older dog was being “protective.”

Everyone has a story about dog loyalty. Their dog follows them from room to room, does a dance when they get home or lays by their side when they’re sick.

One owner told WCCO that a dog came running at his 6- and 7-year boys when his dog sprang into action.

dog generic Why Are Dogs So Loyal?

(credit: CBS)

“When Penny saw this dog coming, she charged after it,” he said. “Put the dog on the ground and just wouldn’t let it near the boys.”

Dr. Margaret Duxbury, a veterinary behaviorist with Veterinary Behavioral Specialties of Minnesota, says dogs have similar social signaling to people. They like social bonds and often prefer to be with species different from their own.

“They are who they are,” Duxbury said. “I don’t think they try to be loyal or courageous or any of those human things that we put on them. They just behave the way they feel.”

Dogs and humans co-evolved thousands of years ago. It’s likely to dogs wanted the humans’ food and the humans appreciated the dogs’ protection.

Duxbury says the social structures dogs appreciate today come through a combination of genetics and selective breeding.

“We clearly select for certain traits, and the desire to be with humans was selected way, way back,” she said.

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