A new study from Japan’s Azabu University claims that when dogs look into the eyes of their owners it releases the “love hormone”, oxytocin, in the owners.
The hormone which amongst other things helps reinforce bonds between parents and their children, increases in humans and their dogs when they interact, particularly when looking into one another’s eyes.
Photo Credit: philhearing
Takefumi Kikusui, a professor of veterinary medicine at the Companion Animal Research Lab at Azabu University in Japan, whose research was published in the journal Science, is quoted on Reuters saying, “I personally believe that there is a tight bond between the owner and dogs. I have three standard poodles. I strongly feel the tight bonding with these dogs. Actually, I participated in the experiment, and my oxytocin boosted up after the eye gaze, like 300 percent,” Kikusui added.
According to the news website, in one experiment conducted by the Japanese university, dogs were put in a room with their owners. The researchers monitored the interaction between dogs and owners and measured oxytocin levels through urine samples. People whose dogs had the most eye contact with them (a mutual gaze) registered the largest increases in oxytocin levels, while equally heartwarming to hear, the dogs also had an oxytocin spike, correlating with that of their owner.
The researchers conducted a similar experiment with wolves and found that no such thing happened, despite the fact that the wolves involved in the research experiment had been raised by the people.