No one can resist seeing their dog staring at them with their warm big eyes and all animal lovers have a weak spot for that. But why are dogs so positive that by gazing at us in this manner they will obtain what they want?
Scientists from Japan, have found out that there is a certain chemical reaction happening when a dog and his owner interact.
Oxytocin, is a hormone which is produced mostly to create a “special connection” between parents and their babies. But funny enough, the same chemical compound occurs when a human interacts with his/hers dog, more exactly when they are looking each other in the eyes.
Oxytocin is know also as the “love hormone” which starts in the hypothalamus and is secreted by the pituitary gland. This special hormone is involved in the majority of our feelings related to bonding and love, such as giving birth, mother baby relationship, sexual arousal and so on.
It is a hormone that has a high positive impact on our psychology and physiology, stated Takefumi Kikusui, a professor of veterinary medicine at Azabu University from Japan.
The experiment of Japanese researchers, consisted in increasing the oxytocin level in female dogs, with the help of a nasal spray. They noticed that after that, the dogs looked at their owners longer than usual, process which created a boost of oxytocin in their owners.
What is surprising about this phenomenon, is that is a scientific proof of how oxytocin can increase social gazing interaction between two beings belonging to different species, explained Yale, assistant professor of neurobiology and psychology, Steve Chang, who didn’t participate in this study.
For the first experiment, scientists have placed in a room, 30 dogs and their owners and observed how they interact for half an hour, after which they measured the oxytocin in their bodies by taking urine samples. Results showed that the owners who interacted more eye to eye with their pet, had the highest levels of oxytocin which was directly proportionate to the oxytocin levels of their dogs.
What was interesting, was that scientists have conducted an experiment as such with wolves, but were surprise to notice that the bond did not happen, even if the wolves had been raised by humans. There was a complete lack of connection between them, the wolves barely gazed at their owner and the owner’s oxytocin level didn’t show any increase.
The explanation might come from the fact that wolves consider eye to eye contact as a threat which is why they avoid making eye contact with humans, explained a researcher from Jichi Medical University, Miho Nagasawa.
This type of mutual bonding between humans and their dogs has developed along the years, ever since the domestication of dogs and being close to humans gave them the impression that establishing an eye to eye connection with their owner might facilitate the connection between them.
According to professor Kikusui, a human and his dog develop a really strong bond. He also participated in the experiment and stated that his oxytocin raised 300% after making eye to eye contact with his dog.
In the study, were involved several breeds of dogs, like, Labradors, golden retrievers, miniature schnauzers, collies and many others. The dogs were both female and males of different ages.
Image Source: Attack of the cute