Press Centre

Secret Life of Dogs

  • Episode: 

    1 of 3

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 07 Feb 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 06 2017 : Sat 04 Feb - Fri 10 Feb
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
 

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The clips features fearless Titti, the cliff jumping dog from Malta, who lives with her owner Carmelo.
 
Carmelo adopted Titti when she was just four-months-old, however, he could never have predicted that little Titti would also learn to love his favourite pastime: cliff jumping into the ocean.
 
He said: “We have been jumping for over six years now. As you can see, I never force her to do anything; it’s like because she enjoys to do it. When she jumps, she wags her tail, that for me…it’s a sign that she’s loving it.”
 
They’re loyal, fun, loving and brilliant companions, so it’s no wonder they’re man’s best friend. Yet they descend from the wildest of predators. So how did the much-feared wolf become the much-loved dog in the heart of the human’s home?
 
To find out, this three-part series travels all over the world to bring viewers the most remarkable stories and the latest scientific discoveries that reveal how dogs have become man’s closest companions, unrivalled working partners and trusted family members. This is dogs as you’ve never seen them before.
 
This first episode reveals just why dogs are a man’s best friend, looking at the latest 
science explaining how dogs are born with the ability to understand humans, why every dog is unique, and how their undying loyalty means that they are more like people than was ever thought possible.  
 
Eight-week-old labrador puppy Tweed is just learning about the world, but she was born with the instinct to make eye contact, something that all puppies do, and it’s helping her form an instant bond with little boy Loki. Even at just a few weeks old, Tweed instinctively follows Loki’s gaze, to see what he’s looking at. So it’s clear that it’s not just what humans say to dogs that matters, it’s what they do.
 
In Malta is Carmelo, who lives with his best friend, jack russell Titti, who Carmelo adopted when she was just four-months-old. However, he could never have predicted that little Titti would also learn to love his favourite pastime: cliff jumping into the ocean.
Carmelo said: “We have been jumping for over six years now. As you can see, I never force her to do anything; it’s like because she enjoys to do it. When she jumps, she wags her tail, that for me…it’s a sign that she’s loving it.”
 
Though what gives Titti the courage to take such a giant leap? It’s by watching Carmelo that she has learnt that it’s safe. 
 
Carmelo added: “She keeps looking in my eyes until I am ready, without talking, she knows what I am doing. Even in the air, she keeps looking at me…she feels very safe when I’m there.”
 
Scientists believe that like children, dogs use their owners as a security blanket. They trust them to make the right decisions for them, and trust forms the basis of all deep relationships, even if that means jumping off a cliff. It’s even been found that dogs and their owners can become so in tune with each other that both their heart rates accelerate whenever they’re apart and only return to normal when they’re reunited. Incredibly, they often also beat in sync.  
 
In the closest relationships, a dog’s ability to read the human face can have life-changing consequences, as is the case with Flora, a Japanese akita, who keeps such a close eye on her owner Robert that she’s become an early warning system for his unexplained blackouts.
 
Robert said: “The first one was when she was very, very young. Fortunately she’d stayed with me throughout and was actually lying over my chest. So I didn’t really think anything more about it at that point.”
 
Then something extraordinary happened: in the seconds before his next blackout, Robert noticed Flora trying to communicate. He added: “I was crossing a bridge in London and she suddenly became really agitated and she blocked my path. She got hold of my hand and she was really insistent and was pulling my hand in a downwards motion and seconds later I actually blacked out.”
 
Flora picked up the warning signs that something was wrong, but more importantly she knew she needed to let him know. Behaviour like this suggests that dogs may actually be able to consider the perspectives of others, an ability scientists call ‘Theory of Mind’, and it’s only found in the most intelligent animals, such as primates, elephants and dolphins.
It’s this ability to interpret the world from the human’s perspective that has enabled people to rely on dogs to take on jobs with a huge responsibility. 
 
In America, 11-year-old Bella has Morquio Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that means she’d normally be confined to a wheelchair, but due to her close bond with her best friend George, a great dane, Bella has defied all expectations.
 
Bella said: “George pretty much forced me to walk. It is good for me because I can use him like a crutch because he is the perfect height. I was actually really excited to start walking again because I haven’t done it in two years so it was just really exciting. To be here like moving around is just amazing.”
 
George’s understanding of Bella’s needs is allowing her to make the most of her life, and that’s because of the unique bond that humans are able to form with their dogs.
 
Also in tonight’s episode is border collie Chaser, who is so brilliant at understanding the English language that she knows each and every one of her 1000 toys by name, and terrier Missy, who regularly takes to the skies with owner Stephen, who said: “Some people fly with hawks and they call it parahawking…I call it para-dogging. I bring her flying with me.”