A dog's life: study reveals people's hormonal link with tail-waggers

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Reuters - Dogs are called "man's best friend" - women's, too - and scientists say the bond between people and their pooches may be deeper than you might think.

Researchers in Japan said on Thursday oxytocin, a hormone that among other things helps reinforce bonds between parents and their babies, increases in humans and their dogs when they interact, particularly when looking into one another's eyes.

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A dog's life: study reveals people's hormonal link with tail-waggers

Golden Retriever puppies 

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Puppies on Park Bench

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Seven week old Siberian Husky puppy sleeping.

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Close up of a cute golden retriever puppy

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Wheaten Terrier Puppies Playing 

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I wanna play ... this 8-week-young Beagle puppy said with a waggy tail.

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Four puppies in a row

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A happy and energetic Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy runs on vibrant green grass.

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English Bulldog puppy 

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Boxer dog balancing treat on its nose.

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Two dogs (Siberian Husky and Pomeranian) cuddling.

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Howling Eurasier puppy

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The image is of a Boston Terrier puppy and a toddler boy approximately 2-5 years of age with blonde hair. The puppy and the boy are staring at each other. 

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Cute Puggle Looking at Camera.

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Spaniel puppies in a basket.

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Beagle puppy lying in a tiny suitcase

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Dalmatian puppy standing in a field 

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American Staffordshire puppy

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy naps on her blanket.

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White Chihuahua puppy wearing heart shaped sunglasses.

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Chocolate Lab puppy looking out of a basket.

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Puppy taking a break (it is tough to be such a young model!)

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Red puppy with wrinkles, blue eyes, Shar Pei & pit bull type

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Sleeping Chihuahua puppy

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Tiny boston terrier puppy chewing on toys

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A Beagle puppy of 12 weeks running on yellow sand with only 2 feet on the ground

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puppy, red and white, pitbull, amstaff, american staffordshire terrier, cute, inquisitive, poker face

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Boxer puppy with doghouse

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Basset Hound puppy

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Yorkshire Terrier puppy sits by owners feet, on green lawn.

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A young black labrador retriever puppy carries a freshly picked carrot in his mouth.

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German shepherd puppy running through field

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American Staffordshire terrier puppy yawns sitting on wooden boards

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Golden Retreiver puppy girl running in the front yard through the spring green grass on location for adventure playtime and imagination with sunlight and green trees in the background

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Close-up Of Puppy

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A serious black puppy (Pit Bull mix) stares intently at the camera while light from the sun shines behind him.

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Cute puppy with a green bandage

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Ten week old female Golden retriever puppy lying on grass.

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Black and white pit bull puppy.

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Puggle puppy looking at the camera with adorable eyes.

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Shih Tzu puppy running on the sand.

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Akita sleeping on the floor

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French bulldog puppy sleeping with teddy bear

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They described a series of experiments that suggest that people and their canine companions have mutually developed this instinctual bonding mechanism in the thousands of years since dogs were first domesticated.

Sometimes called the "love hormone," oxytocin is made in a brain structure called the hypothalamus and secreted from the pituitary gland. It is involved in emotional bonding, maternal behavior, child birth, breast-feeding, sexual arousal and other functions.

"Oxytocin has many positive impacts on human physiology and psychology," said Takefumi Kikusui, a veterinary medicine professor at Japan's Azabu University, whose research was published in the journal Science.

In one experiment, dogs were put in a room with their owners. The researchers tracked their interaction 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. The dogs also had an oxytocin spike correlating with that of their owner.

The researchers conducted a similar experiment with wolves, close relatives of dogs, and found that no such thing happened despite the fact that the wolves had been raised by the people.

In another experiment, the researchers sprayed oxytocin into dogs' noses and put them in a room with their owners as well as people the dogs did not know. With the female dogs, and not the males, this increased the mutual gazing between dogs and their owners and also led to an oxytocin increase in the owners.

"I personally believe that there is a tight bond between the owner and dogs," Kikusui said.

"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.

The study involved dogs of various breeds and ages including the miniature schnauzer, golden retriever, border collie, Labrador retriever, Shiba Inu, standard poodle, beagle and others.


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