Why we love dogs — and viceversa

A University of Lincoln professor’s research has been highlighted in a BBC Horizon documentary. The film explores humans’ relationships with dogs — closer than with any other animal on the planet.

Directed and produced by Dan Child, the hour-long documentary, titled “The secret life of the dog”, investigates the roots of the strong relationship between humans and dogs.

The first part of the documentary looks into the research of Professor Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln, who became the country’s first specialist in veterinary behavioural medicine, and is now the country’s first professor of the discipline. Mills is based at the university’s Riseholme campus.

Professor Daniel Mills combines his behavioural and clinical knowledge to offer a referral clinic for animals with behaviour problems at the Riseholme campus. | Photos: BBC

“If dogs can read human emotions, and increasingly the scientific evidence is beginning to point in that direction, that’s going to form the basis of a very powerful bond between human and dog,” Mills said in the programme.

The documentary also looks at an unique breeding experiment in Siberia, which revealed how dogs evolved from wolves. Swedish scientists also showed how the bond between humans and dogs is controlled by a hormone which is responsible for bonding mothers to their babies as well.

Finally, the Horizon documentary presents Betsy, the world’s most intelligent dog, and compares her abilities to those of children, and shows how dogs helped identify genes responsible for causing human diseases.

“The secret life of the dog” was originally broadcasted on Thursday, January 7th, and is available on the BBC’s iPlayer until April 2010.

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