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Is Your Pet Your Baby? There's Some Science Behind That!

24 April 2015

ANALYSIS - Admit it, you treat your dog as if you brought it into this world yourself. Well, you're not alone - and there's some scientific research to prove your behaviour is completely justified, writes Gemma Hyland.

The study by a team of Japanese scientists suggests eye contact between dogs and owners triggers the release of oxytocin, facilitating the same bonding process that occurs between a mother and her child.

The team believes dogs may have acquired human methods of communication during domestication.

According to their research, which has been published in the journal Science, mutual gazing between dogs and owners triggered a significant increase in urinary oxytocin, which is also known as the 'love hormone'.

Writing in Science, researchers said: "The human-dog relationship is exceptional because it is an interspecies form of attachment."

Dogs and owners involved with the Japanese study were urine tested before and after a 30 minute period of interaction with one another, reports MRCVS.

Dogs were divided into two groups - 'long gaze' and 'short gaze'. Owners and dogs in the long gaze group showed a significantly greater increase in oxytocin levels.

The same experiment was also carried out on hand-reared wolves. This group rarely showed mutual gazing with their owners and oxytocin levels remained unchanged.

This suggests mutual gazing as a form of communication between dogs and owners evolved during domestication.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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