Scientists Explore Puppy Dog Eyes Stare

Posted on May 20, 2015 16:01

In a recent study, scientists have found a hormonal mechanism behind the famous ‘puppy dog eyes’ stare of dogs. They found that the oxytocin loop between owners and dogs were comparable of that between mothers and their babies.

Past studies have also found that dog have a more intimate understanding of some parts of human nature, like pointing or eye contact.

Many studies have also shown that maternal bonding is promoted by the oxytocin hormone, along with altruism and trust. For instance, when a mother stares into the eyes of her baby, they both enter a ‘feedback loop’ of oxytocin rise. This feedback loop is indicated to seal the bond between mother and child.

This particular study was done by researchers from Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan, who observed 30 dog owners and some wolf owners interacting with their pets for 30 minutes. They also connected urine samples from the pets before and after the interaction period.

The interaction period saw owners talking to and petting their animals. Dogs and owners frequently made eye contact during the period, while wolves rarely made eye contact. On analysis of the urine samples, the dogs were found to have experienced a 130 percent increase in oxytocin during the interaction period. Among owners, the rise was 300 percent.

However, in dogs and owners that did not make much eye contact, the oxytocin increase was not observed. There was also no oxytocin increase among wolves and their owners.

The experiment was repeated with dogs being given an oxytocin nasal spray, and researchers found a high level of gender divergence in pet response. Female dogs spent 150 percent more time making eye contact with owners than males.

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