A new study published in the journal Behavioural Processes reveals that dogs carry the odor of their owners in their brains as a perfume and associate the smell with rewards.
The was led by Gregory Berns, from Emory University's Centre for Neuropolicy, who analyzed the brains of dogs and found that the smell of familiar humans tend to trigger reward signals that were stronger compared to those triggered in presence of familiar dogs or unfamiliar humans. The researchers said that this was one of the reasons why dogs jumps and licks the owner when they get back to their homes as they believe good things will happen.
The researchers tested their theory on a group of dogs who were made to smell the scent of donors who were not present in the room, which meant that it represented something in the dogs' brains which persisted even when the donors were not physically present. The researchers added that such an association has been found in humans as well who display an immediate, emotional reaction when they smell the perfume or cologne of someone they love.
"Our experiment may be showing the same process in dogs. But since dogs are so much more olfactory than humans, their responses would likely be even more powerful than the ones we might have", Berns said.