Humans and dogs have evolved together over the last 30,000 years.

By April Saylor
August 26, 2020
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There are many reasons why dogs are known as man’s best friend. They entertain us with their antics, greet us with an exuberant wag of the tail every day (no matter how many times you leave and come back), and offer endless photo ops to fill our social feeds. But these aren’t the only reasons why dogs are the best. In fact, science can back up the claims that our canine companions are the superior species, too! Read on for 11 reasons why dogs are the best friends we could ever ask for, and share why you love your pup with us on Instagram at @DailyPawsmag.

1. They Provide Endless Entertainment.

Whether we’re watching our four-legged friends get the zoomies around the house or romp with their pals at the park, there’s nothing that says “pure joy” like puppies at play. Those big floppy ears and goofy grins are the highlight of our days. So much so, that a 2017 study conducted by BarkBox found that the average dog owner posts about their pup six times per week on social media.

Left: Photo: Silvia Mendez
Right: Photo: Shannon Amann

2. They Are Great Company, No Matter What You’re Doing.

The companionship of a dog is like no other. Just think: What friend of yours always wants to do whatever it is you’re doing? Unless your BFF also happens to be a dog, we know that every duo eventually differs on favorite activities, or places to eat, or what to watch on Netflix. Except dogs. Want to go for a run? YEP. How about a car ride? Double yep! Lounge on the couch and munch on treats? You betcha. Dogs are down for anything. (Except maybe this pup, who’s had enough of your shenanigans during his scheduled nap time, thankyouverymuch.)

3. They Lower Our Stress Levels.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have a fur-ever friend who greets you at the door with a wagging tail each day. But did you know that having a dog around can actually help manage stress? Research has shown that being around a canine companion can have a calming effect on humans, and help us control stress two ways. First, by increasing levels of oxytocin (a hormone in the body that releases feelings of joy). Second, by reducing levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) in the body. So if you’re looking for a reason to add a dog to the family, chalk it up to putting you in a better mood. 

Left: Photo: Ali Hirschauer
Right: Photo: Nina Ruggiero

4. They Make Exceptional Coworkers.

Dogs have worked alongside man for centuries, hunting, herding, and helping us get where we need to go safely as we evolved alongside each other. Hieroglyphs depicting scenes from ancient Egypt and Greece showcase this symbiotic relationship between animal and human, and the working dog continues to thrive even to this day. With their enhanced sense of smell and keen instincts, dogs still work alongside their human counterparts in great numbers. K-9 units help law enforcement and first responders sniff out weapons, detect arson, and track missing persons. Service and therapy dogs help their handlers navigate life with a sense of stability and freedom. Farm dogs guard livestock and herd animals to pasture. (And it goes without saying that pups make great distractions for those of us working from home, too!)

5. They Help Us Sleep Better.

In a recent survey of pet parents of both dogs and cats, dog owners whose pups sleep in bed with them reported fewer disturbances than their cat-owning counterparts. They also said that sleeping in bed with their pup gave them a stronger feeling of comfort and security. Whether or not they snore … well, that’s another story.

Left: Photo: Kaitlyn Howes
Right: Photo: Joslin Lee

6. Their Loyalty Knows No Bounds.

With a history of companionship as long as the one between dogs and humans, it’s no wonder the pet-owner relationship is one that’s so strong. It seems like dogs will do pretty much anything to be by our side, keep their owners safe, and even pay their final respects after we’ve passed on.

7. They’re the Original BFF. 

Dogs have been human companions since the beginning of civilization. It’s thought that Paleolithic humans were the first to tame dogs from wild wolves some 15,000 years ago. Evidence of a child’s footprints walking alongside a dog’s paw prints appears in a cave in France, suggesting that bond may extend even farther back—closer to 30,000 years. Either way, the first wolf looked at Neolithic man thousands of years ago across the fire, and each realized they could benefit from one another’s presence (probably over food, if we had to guess). Though their relationship probably bordered on the wilder side of things, it was the beginning of a friendship that would continue to evolve over thousands of years as dogs were domesticated into the pets we know today. 

Left: Photo: Robby Lucia
Right: Photo: Ali Felsenthal

8. They Keep Us Active and Healthy.

Not only do dogs help us sleep better, they also help us get more exercise. In fact, a survey of dog owners in the UK found that people who have dogs get about 200 more minutes of walking each week than people without dogs. All those walks around the block with Spot add up: Walking helps lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes. Plus, our pups make for adorable exercise buddies who simply refuse to take “no” for an answer. Even just having a dog around may lower your family’s risk of obesity and improve gut health!   

9. They Help Humans Live Longer, Happier Lives.

With all that extra exercise, it’s no wonder dog owners live longer. But aside from the physical benefits of having a dog, research shows some incredible psychological and emotional benefits, too. While all pets provide valuable companionship, dogs’ innate need to go out regularly means owners are required to get outdoors and experience nature. Having a dog can help decrease isolation and loneliness, as pups provide a sense of purpose and create opportunities for owners to socialize with others on their adventures together. 

Left: Photo: Maria Duryee
Right: Photo: Mallory Tujeysch

10. They Teach Us How to Love Unconditionally.

Your pup doesn’t care if you put the dishes away in a timely fashion or forgot to put the toilet seat down. He loves you—flaws and all—forever and ever and ever and ever. On good days, your doggo will be at your side to celebrate. And on bad days, he’ll be right there too, steadfast in his loyalty and ready to play fetch as soon as you’re back up and at ‘em.

11. They Understand—Even When No One Else Can.

From roly-poly puppies to those beloved senior sugar snouts, there’s just something about dogs’ disarmingly sweet faces that’s so hard to resist. But is that adorable head tilt really Spike’s way of telling you he’s listening when you tell him about your day? There are several scientific theories that explain the ways in which dogs have come to understand human cues, even syncing their behavior with their owners’ over time. Over centuries of domestication, dogs have learned to read human expressions and emotions. So the next time you wonder if your dog really knows what you’re thinking, go ahead and tell him he’s a good boy telepathically before you go in for a belly rub. He might just get the message!