Science is confirming what dog lovers have always wished and dreamed was true! According to a new study in the journal Science, a prolonged stare from a dog is a sign of love and attachment to its owner. “Okay,” you’re saying, “I already knew that because I love my dog and my dog loves me, even though Pickles doesn’t speak English. Look, our love is just understood and beautiful, okay?” But here is where science seems to prove this bond.
Oxytocin is a hormone that triggers feelings of bonding and attachment. It spikes when a mother is giving birth to a child, but it also increases during sexual intercourse. It’s what is responsible for your most heart-wrenching, lovey-dovey feelings, but it also is produced by our precious doggies.
Japanese researchers ran an experiment on dog owners interacting with their pets, as well as with domesticated wolves. However, even a domesticated wolf doesn’t have generations of domestication in their genes the way dogs do. After 30-minute sessions of general bonding behavior (petting, gazing, talking, etc.), the urine of the animals and humans were tested. The dogs and their owners showed an increase in oxytocin; the wolves’ levels didn’t change. But what this is said to prove is that humans and dogs have evolved together as companions and developed similar hormonal reactions in their interspecies relationships. Some scientists even think that the dogs sought out humans as companions first.
The second part of the experiment involved administering oxytocin to dogs via a spray to the nose; dogs were given oxytocin or a saline spray (as control) and directed into a room containing their owner and two strangers. Both male and female dogs headed for their respective owners, but female dogs experienced an even bigger increase in oxytocin. (Maybe because bitches be crazy? Blame oxytocin, always.)
Some scientists doubt the “domestication thesis,” and maybe we humans are just fooling ourselves into thinking there’s a bond between dogs and their owners, and that belief is enough to go on for both parties.
But all that stuff was probably said by a cat person, so I discredit it completely.
In a nutshell, your dog really does love and care for you, as much as you love and care for them. The feeling is mutual.
Source: New York Times