8 Reasons to Love Your Dog

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We’ve all heard stories about man’s best friend displaying random acts of kindness to humans, their fellow dogs and other animals. And they rarely cease to give us a feeling as fuzzy as a long-haired Shih Tzu. But studies have shown that dogs can also play a serious role in the advancement of science and medicine. Here are more reasons—and science-based ones at that—to love your dog.

Help detect cancer

Researchers have trained dogs to use their keen sense of smell to detect certain types of cancer, including ovarian and prostate cancers. One study, in fact, showed that a particular type of shepherd dog was able to identify men with prostate cancer with a 95 percent accuracy by smelling the participants’ urine samples. Sources: HealthCentral, HealthCentral, livescience

They “catch” our yawns

Just like humans, dogs often yawn contagiously when they see a person yawn. One study, published in PLOS ONE, found that dogs are more likely to “catch” a yawn if it’s from their owner. Sources: HealthCentral, PLOS ONE

They’re unconditional – literally

Many people with disabilities attribute their ability to perform everyday tasks and live a life with fewer complications to the help of service dogs. Dogs have been trained to assist people diagnosed with a multitude of conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Blindness and Cerebral Palsy. Sources: Nobel Media, US Service Dog Registry

They don’t like to disappoint

Scold your dog for leaving you a “gift” on the rug, and you might fall prey to its big, guilty-looking eyes. Don’t fall for it! One study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes, concluded that dogs’ “guilty” look is a response to the owner’s behavior, rather than to its recognizing its transgressions. Sources: livescience, Behavioural Processes

We share diseases

Clinical trials can benefit dogs by possibly providing them with a cure, and they can help us by giving doctors an animal model of human disease.  In the 1920s, it was first discovered that diabetics lacked the hormone insulin through studies in dogs. Sources: nobelprize, livescience

Unique personalities

Experts have dubbed certain breeds of dogs as being “extroverts,” and “emotionally stable,” among other personality types. Studies have shown that dogs’ personalities cannot always be predicted, but differences in behavior are well-established and are usually consistent throughout a dogs’ life. Sources: PLOS ONE, livescience

They're like kids

A recent study found that owner-dog relationships have strong similarities to parent-child relationships. The study, published in PLOS ONE, showed that dogs behaved in a more confident manner when their owners were present – an effect called the “secure base effect.” This evidence is the first of its kind to confirm this effect is shared by both dogs and children.

Protect the environment

In recent years, experts have trained dogs to help protect Florida’s beloved Everglades National Park by sniffing out Burmese pythons. The exotic snakes can cause severe consequences to the ecosystem, including preying on native wildlife and competing with native predators. Sources: National Geographic, National Parks Service