Study Finds Humans Love Dogs More Than Other People

Color Run - Wembley
Getty Images | Claire Greenway

It’s no secret that people love dogs. There’s a reason we call them “man’s best friend.” And if you’ve ever sensed that some humans love their furry friends more than their fellow humans, you are not mistaken.

A 2017 study published in the journal “Society & Animals” found that people are more empathetic toward dogs who are suffering than they are toward other people who are suffering—well, at least toward other adults.

Researchers presented 256 students with fake police reports that described a brutal attack on either a one-year-old baby, a 30-year-old adult, a puppy or a six-year-old dog. They described the victim as having been attacked “with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant,” left unconscious with “one broken leg” and “multiple lacerations.”

puppies photo
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

After the participants read each report, they were asked a series of questions to measure their levels of empathy toward each of the victims to determine for whom they felt the most empathy.

The results might surprise you—or maybe not! Researchers found that adult human victims garnered the least amount of empathy, with the baby, puppy and dog all garnering similar levels of empathy.


They wrote:

“We hypothesized that the vulnerability of victims—determined by their age and not species—would determine participants’ levels of distress and concern for them. The main effect for age but not for species was significant. We also found more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans. Age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims. In addition, female participants were significantly more empathetic toward all victims than were their male counterparts.”

babies photo
Getty Images | China Photos

In other words, people ranked their fellow adult humans dead last when it came doling out empathy. So when pet owners say they consider their dog “part of the family,” apparently they really mean it!

One reason we might value our canine companions so much is that in addition to being great cuddle buddies, being adorable and giving us unconditional love, another study showed that dogs are actually great judges of character. As if we needed another reason to love them.


So if you ever feel guilty for liking your dog more than some of your friends, it turns out you’re definitely not alone!

Now, if you really love your dog as much as you say you do, chances are you’re tempted to bring him along with you when you run errands. If this sounds like you, you should keep this list of dog-friendly stores handy.

Benjamin G. Levy/Flickr

These 12 pet-friendly stores won’t make you part ways with your dog at the door or leave her in the car while you’re shopping. In fact, many encourage patrons to bring in their pups.

To be on the safe side, you should call the local store of any pet-friendly national retailer just to be sure they are indeed welcoming of dogs.

1. Anthropologie

Good news, fashion lovers! Most Anthropologie stores welcome dogs, according to dog trainer Cesar Millan.

“Shopping with your dog can be a bonding experience, and it can help socialize your dog while boosting her confidence,” according to Millan. “A well-behaved dog in a store can also be a great ambassador for their species or breed.”

When you see Maebel the toy Australian shepherd hanging out by Anthropologie’s coffee cups, you won’t be able to resist taking your own pup.

2. Lowe’s

The surest way to get your dog some extra attention is to take her into Lowe’s, where most employees and other patrons will shower her with love—and sometimes even treats. Skylar the German shepherd sure thinks so!

According to Lowe’s official Facebook page, the company understands that “pets have become an integral part of families and are included in many family activities.” Unfortunately, only service dogs are allowed in Lowe’s stores in Canada.

3 & 4. Marshalls And TJ Maxx

These discount retailers don’t mind if you take your beloved pet for a ride in one of their shopping carts, as Henry and Penny, two Instagram-famous French bulldogs, can attest. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your dog when you walk down the pet toys aisle.

Click through to read about nine more pet-friendly stores to visit with your pup.

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About the Author
Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kate's work.

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