Those that have never owned a dog can find it hard to understand the connection and the shared bond between dog and owner.
When we return home, our dog greets us with such love and enthusiasm – it’s a feeling that’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced puppy love.
A dog is not, as the law suggests, a chattel and possession; it’s a relationship and friendship that grows and deepens. The strong relationship we have with our dog is similar to the one we have with our children or siblings.
The reason – the love drug – oxytocin!
Oxytocin is an important hormone. We all have it and we all produce it. A mother produces oxytocin in abundance during childbirth to help create that first intimate bond between a mother and her newborn. In fact, all mammals produce it to help form healthy relationships.
So, do our dogs really love us?
Dr. Teresa Romero wrote a study that looked at how oxytocin promotes bonding and what this means for us as dog owners.
The first group of dogs had oxytocin sprayed into their nostrils to raise their natural levels. The second group had saline sprayed into their noses. The dog’s behaviour was then observed during their interactions with humans and other dogs.
Not surprisingly, the scientists found oxytocin was a powerful love drug. The dogs with boosted oxytocin were far more sociable and interacted more with their owners than those with the saline spray.
A North American study published in 2019 also found that dogs had developed muscles around their eyes that allowed them to raise their inner eyebrows, which made their eyes look larger, anxious and ‘baby- like’.Scientists say this process spanned tens of thousands of years and unconsciously breeding dogs led to further the development of expressive eyebrows, which we tend to call ‘puppy-dog eyes’.
Rescue shelters have shown that dogs with the most expressive eyebrows are the ones most likely to be rehomed!
Shelley Heading – The Dog House Academy 2020