While Affective Neuroscience explores the biological make-up of the brain, including its neuro-chemistries, and how all of it works together to create affect, the inter-disciplinary field of Social Neuroscience teaches us why we need social connection, and how these social connections are organized in the brain. As dogs match us in social and emotional needs, this also plays a big role in Affective Dog Behavior.
For example, attachment theories, as they have been studied between parent and child, have also been researched between human and dog with similar conclusions, and what we are learning about relationships between humans is very transferrable to our relationships with dogs. And that's really not surprising, when you think about the many thousands of years humans and dogs have devoted to thriving together, not only by keeping each other fed and safe but also by keeping each other company.
Sadly, though, living with humans presents a special kind of challenge to dogs in that dogs can suffer from the exact same mental illnesses that can affect humans (with the exception of schizophrenia). Also, dogs are so connected to humans that they can "feel" OUR emotional state, and they need us and look to us more than to other dogs.
Some newer research suggests that dogs can be genetically predisposed to certain emotional and behavioral issues. While that may certainly be the case, we shouldn't merely focus on what we can do about it to prevent this from happening. Rather we need to ask: How does this affect a dog's individual needs in any given moment? Should increased anxiety be the issue, for example, a dog has an increased need for CARE.
The researchers we looked at the most are Dan Siegel & Tina Bryson, Robert Sapolsky, Frans de Waal and Temple Grandin, to name just a few.
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Sometimes I read about someone saying with great authority that animals have no intentions and no feelings, and I wonder, "Doesn't this guy have a dog?"
- Frans de Waal
The way attention is focused changes and helps balance the brain
- Dr. Dan Siegel
Essentially, we humans live well enough and long enough, and are smart enough to generate all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads
- Robert M. Sapolsky
To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us.
- Frans de Waal
I am different, not less
- Temple Grandin