If history is to be believed, thousands of years ago early humans bred gray wolves. Over time, these wolves were domesticated, fed and selectively bred. Slowly but surely they lost their wild tendencies and inherited different physical characteristics too. A slow evolution had occurred, and with it came an animal perfectly suited to people. Welcome to the dog we know and love today. Thanks to its historical connection to us, our pet is more like us than you might think.

Dogs can read facial expressions

There’s arguably no animal on the planet better at reading our faces than our dogs. Studies show that even pups in kennels intuitively have a sense for what we’re feeling; a survival instinct that might be down to the fact that dogs have always depended on humans for support.

So what makes our four-legged friends good mind readers? Well, a BBC documentary entitled Horizon showed that dogs analyze human faces the same way we do: by looking at the left side of the face first, then the right, rather than right down the middle. This left-side bias helps because our faces are not totally symmetrical. By analyzing a visage in stages, you get a clearer view of what that person is feeling.

The extraordinary thing is that dogs don’t employ this left-side bias with other animals (instead, they look right down the middle), meaning they’ve developed a special mechanism to read us, and only us.

Dogs feel empathy

If you own a dog, you’ll be able to recall a time when your dog has tried to comfort you when you’re sad.

Yes, dogs are empathetic, and a recent study in the UK confirmed this, suggesting that because dogs can read us so well, they’re particularly good at knowing when the time is right to get close.

And because dogs are pack animals, they’re mindful of their place in the home, of keeping the harmony of their environment intact. If you’re the pack leader and you’re in strife, they’ll come to your aid. The amazing thing is that many dogs will approach a complete stranger and offer support as well, meaning their egalitarian streak extends to humans both familiar and unknown. A truly remarkable animal.

Dogs can enjoy TV too

Dogs enjoy TV, with a few caveats.

Because they don’t see in a full range of colours like we do, and because they perceive images faster than we do, a  normal 24 frame-per-second movie is enjoyable, but not ideal.

The good news is that DogTV is a subscription service designed to give your pet a show he or she can enjoy. Its creators claim it’ll help cure your dog of the ailments we humans feel too: loneliness, boredom, anxiety, to name a few.

Dogs imitate us

There’s a reason animal trainers always tell owners to keep dogs calm by exuding calm. Dogs feed off our energy. In the same vein, they also look up to us, and that means they’re capable of imitating us.

Have you ever opened a door and seen your dog try use its paw to do the same? Dogs have an ability to automatically copy what we’re doing.

One of the major contributing factors? Dogs are pack animals. They want to fit in, and they want to keep the peace by appeasing the boss of their domain – you.

Dogs also use imitation to make their lives easier, such as filling their tummies with yummy food. As this YouTube video shows, dogs are just as good as young children at copying certain tasks – if not better. In fact, they have knack for eliminating unnecessary information and getting straight to the heart of the prize.