Our special relationship with dogs is a bond that’s been in place for tens of thousands of years. We all know that wonderful feeling when our dog looks up at us lovingly.
DogTech’s late founder John Richardson spent a lifetime studying dogs and instinctively knew how to emotionally connect with them. Increasingly, science is helping us understand how that happens.
A 2015 study published in Science magazine shed some light on why humans and dogs become so attached to each other.
We’ve known for some time that the hormone oxytocin is generated in humans when they meet each other’s gaze, contributing to emotional bonding. Well, it turns out that humans and dogs both experience this rush of oxytocin when they look into each other’s eyes.
The researchers monitored levels of the hormone in people and their dogs before and after they stared into each other’s eyes, and both experienced a spike. And the longer the gazing continued, the higher the dogs’ oxytocin levels became.
Interestingly, the effect could also be reversed. When oxytocin was administered to the dogs via a nasal spray, their gazing behaviour increased!
This ‘mutual gaze’ communication seems to have come about through the domestication of wolves to become our best friends. Research shows that wolves, which rarely engage in eye contact with humans, don’t experience the oxytocin boost that dogs do.
So, be sure to take off your dark glasses when you say hello to your dog. It’ll make you both feel great, and help to build that special bond you share.