Puppy love hormone boosts Fido's bond to owner
A dog wins a place in its owner's heart through mutual affectionate gazes, say scientists, who suspect a hormone reinforces the bond the same way parents connect with their babies.
Dogs were domesticated over centuries to select for their friendly temperament. Since then, we've shared a mutually beneficial relationship with our fireside companions.
Now, veterinary researchers in Japan have tested how our bond with canines gets strengthened.
Step one? Those irresistible puppy eyes.
First, the researchers put dogs into a room with 27 owners, and videotaped their their verbal communications, and how they touched and gazed at each other for 30 minutes.
They then measured levels of oxytocin, the "love hormone," a marker for the surge of affection that appears when mothers care for their children and sexual pleasure.
Oxytocin levels measured in the urine of both the dogs and their owners increased during long gazes at each other, Takefumi Kikusu of the veterinary medicine department at Azabu University in Kanagawa, Japan, and his co-authors report in Thursday's issue of the journal Science.