There are plenty of reasons why people get pets – companionship, extra security, as a walking guide for blind people, hunting partners, as gifts, and many more. However, people are now regarding them as more than that. In fact, a survey by The Harris Poll  conducted in 2015 suggested that 95% of pet owners already consider pets as part of their family, not just some tool or aid to use and take care of.
If you are one of those skeptics still looking for a reason why you should treat your pet as a genuine member of the family, here are a few things to consider.
Pets are smart
They may not behave the way we do but pets are smart creatures. You see, even without training or instructions, pets are naturally inquisitive and responsive. They recognize faces, voices, touch, and for some, even scents. They respond to calls and recognize their names. No, they may not be able to talk but they can definitely communicate. And if you establish a deep enough bond with them, you will even be able to understand each other.
Pets are sentient creatures
Although some animals are bred and trained for specific purposes like hunting or guiding blind people, animals (or at least the more highly evolved ones) are capable of receiving, understanding, and, to a certain extent, even reciprocating feelings. This is even more so for pets than other creatures.
Studies have shown that certain pets, like dogs, exhibit agitation and even depression when their owners are separated from them for long periods of time. In fact, behaviors such as gnawing and self-mutilation become apparent in dogs that are kept away from human contact. They also become more aggressive and wilder the longer they are isolated.
Similarly, cats that don’t get plenty of human interaction have been observed to groom less and exhibit more feral behaviors – a far cry from their more docile and affectionate brethren that receive regular human interaction.
On the other hand, dogs and cats who have frequent contact with their owners tend to exhibit less aggression and more control. They are often gentler, more responsive, and more protective of their owners, much like how social animals such as wolves tend to be with their packs. They regard their owners like family – ready to lay down their lives to keep them safe or face any danger that threatens their family.
Pets also recognize distress. There have been documented cases of cats and dogs that behave strangely, or at least differently when their owners are feeling anxious and emotionally troubled. Some cats and dogs have been observed to promptly lay down close to their owners during such times without even needing to be called – almost as if to provide their owners some form of comfort with touch or close proximity.
Such actions only prove that these creatures are capable of feelings too. Do not treat them as if they are merely tools to be used – set aside when not needed, summoned when required. They are so much more than that. They deserve so much more too. Pamper them and choose right leather dog collar for them.
Pets provide comfort
There is a reason why hospitals and other therapy clinics use support animals. Scientists have already documented the calming effects of pets on patients. According to studies, interaction with these support pets often leads to the release of oxytocin and dopamine in patients. These natural chemicals decrease blood pressure and almost mimic the comfort brought about by hugging or when mothers breastfeed their babies. These lead to an overall decrease in anxiety and a better mood.
Furthermore, pets also provide a controlled and positive interaction with the patients, so the patients respond without having the need to formally follow therapeutic exercises or exercise regimes. In the patient-pet interaction, patients just tend to naturally play with pets and the pets just naturally welcome the attention and affection that the patients give. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Pets treat you like family
Pets do not just recognize their owners as masters. Often, pets look at their owners as family. Especially for very social animals like dogs, it is easy to tell whether you have been accepted as family because they will generously show you behaviors that are distinctly for families. Lying down on their backs to expose their bellies, for example, is an extremely vulnerable position for them because it allows potential threats to gain access to their weakest point which is their tummy. However, dogs and cats often do this when they are with their family. This behavior is a simple show of trust and surrender.
Also, the wagging of the tail in dogs and the familiar purring of cats show excitement that is more closely associated with a happy familial reunion. These acts are celebrations to welcome the arrival of a family member or a loved one.
Yes, it is sometimes difficult to get a pet’s affection if it does not recognize you as family. But, that is also true for people. Trust and loyalty are not something we easily give, except to family. Often times, trust and loyalty are earned through time and certain acts, which is basically the same for pets.
Since pets are naturally protective of their family, anyone that they consider initially as not part of the family is a potential threat. This is why they either tend to be aloof or too wary of other people. However, once you get a pet’s acceptance, you will remain in their family forever – recognized, accepted, and completely trusted.
Pets are protective
Because they consider their owners as part of their family, they tend to be protective of them too. In fact, even for non-aggressive breeds, there have been documented cases of pets aggressively coming to the rescue or aid of their owners.
Traditionally, this is partly the reason why some people get pets – to guard certain areas or people. You see, certain breeds of dogs, in particular, are chosen to be guard dogs in charge of keeping the house, yard, building, or any contained space clear of any intruders. They have a strong natural tendency to bark or hiss at strangers and unfamiliar objects and animals. But they don’t do this out of hate or anger. The main reason why they do is because they recognize a potential threat to the family that they care about. The sound serves as a warning to the threat as well as a warning to the family that danger is close.
In some cases, pets would even go beyond barking or hissing in the defense of their master and family. If warnings are not effective, some pets would bite or tackle the threats directly, sometimes even leading to fatalities. But that is just how they are. There is nothing they wouldn’t do to protect their family.
Pets love unconditionally
The way your pets treat you is not dependent on how you treat them. Yes, every once in a while, they will retreat from you when you are angry or when they recognize that they have done something wrong, but they will always seek you out eventually.
In fact, there are documented cases of pets who have faithfully waited for their owners even long after their owners have passed away, loving them even after they’re gone. In Japan, for example, a popular Akita named Hachiko was known to have continuously gone back to wait for his master at the train station every day for nine years, even after his master’s death. This amazing act of love and devotion has even earned this dog a place in the community’s history and a bronze statue at the train station.
They will always welcome your affection, your attention, and your praises, no matter how seldom they come or even if you don’t like giving them at all. They will love you unconditionally once they accept you as family. They will be happy when you’re back and they will be stressed and lonely when you’re not around. Pets will cherish you like precious family regardless of how you feel about them. So why not treat them like family too?