According to pnas.org, humans began our relationship with pets in the Neolithic era when wolves started hanging around our ancient campsites. They got to eat our scraps and we gained a fleet of guard dogs in the symbiotic relationship. Over time, the wolves who stuck close to our ancient ancestors evolved differently from wild wolves because they lived different lives. The wolves living around humans did not need to hunt as much, so their violent characteristics were not as crucial to maintain. In fact, a violent wolf might bite a human and not be fed at all, whereas a cute one that is not as violent might be fed more. This led to wolves becoming less dangerous over thousands of years and to develop into the hundreds of different breeds we know today through selective breeding. Furthermore, according to psychologytoday.com, because canine species are highly emotionally intelligent beings, the wolves started to become sensitive to certain hand signals, and eventually, they became trained.
But, why did we want to keep them as pets when they did not provide a protective function for us anymore? Humans enjoyed the company of wolves so much that we grew an emotional attachment to them, and as they evolved into dogs, they became dependant on us to care for them. The reason why humans love having pets is similar to the reason why humans love to spend time with each other. In our brains, we build emotional pathways, so if spending time with a certain animal makes us happy often, this emotional memory link will become permanent. We are so emotionally connected with our pets that we’ll gladly talk to them, even if they may not completely understand us. We tell them we love them with all our hearts.
According to sciencedirect.com, the health benefits of owning pets are extensive, from the physical benefits of walking a dog to the overall reduction of stress hormone production in the body. Dogs have been shown to lower blood pressure and help prevent heart disease. But, most importantly, pets make us happy because of the attachments we form with them, this is probably why pet owners are also less likely to be depressed.