Science News

Dog Eye Contact Helps Dogs Bond With Humans, Study Suggests

Human Dog Eye Contact

Japanese researchers led by animal behaviorist Takefumi Kikusui with Azabu University (Japan) have found eye contact between dogs and their owners to be a mutual form of social communication which helps strengthen the bond between canines and their owners, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

In the study, researchers found the connections between humans and their dogs to exhibit the same biochemical basis as the bond between mother and child. Kikusui was quoted by CBS News as having said in explanation of this bond that their data suggests “that owner-dog bonding is comparable to human parent-infant bonding, that is, oxytocin-mediated eye-gaze bonding,” which the researchers behind the study were surprised by “because there is not a reproductive relationship between human and dogs, but both of them have acquired similar skills.”

Oxyocin, which now comes in a synthetic nasal spray that may help men lose weight, is a mammalian neurohypophysial hormone manufactured in the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus which is associated with maternal bonding as well as trust— or what CBS News referred to in the aforementioned report as “that warm fuzzy feeling.” It’s also referred to as the love hormone.

Kikusui, who is a professor of veterinary medicine at Azabu University’s Companion Animal Research Lab, believes that the gaze exhibited by dogs was acquired as part of an effort to not only communicate with humans, but also to form social bonds with them.

Researchers behind the study, which measured oxytocin levels in urine, found that 30-minutes of owners gazing into their eyes of their canines was enough to increase levels of oxytocin in both humans as well as dogs.

With humans, various studies have suggested that babies as well as their mothers receive a sudden spike in oxytocin levels while breastfeeding as well as when they spend time gazing at one another, according to a report on Live Science.

Wolves on the other hands do not exhibit this trait, which suggests dogs acquired the social strategy once they were domesticated, as opposed to having inherited it from their wolf ancestors, according to the researchers.

In other canine coverage here on Immortal News, a dog named Frankie has the ability to sniff out thyroid cancer in undiagnosed individuals.

Do you ever stare into your pup’s eyes?

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