Japanese scientists have figured out how locking of eyes between a dog and the owner triggers chemical reaction that strengthens the love between the two. The researchers found that a love hormone called oxytocin is released when the eyes of the dog meet those of the owner. The findings could help unlock the evolutionarily mystery that resulted in the dog and man living closely together.
In a study published in the journal Science, researchers say that a special bond exists between human and dogs they keep at home. When the dog and the human eyes meet, the action triggers the release of oxytocin, which further cement and nurture the bond between dog and the owner.
That also explains why there seems to be greater affection between dogs and humans that can only be likened to that between a parent and child.
Japanese researchers have uncovered that the more the dog and the owner lock eyes, the more of oxytocin get released, boosting their love for each other.
No special connection in wolves
The special bond between dog and the owner that emerges when they keep eyes in contact doesn’t happen with other animals, at least in the case of wolves. In a separate study to compare the relationship between other animals and man, the Japanese researchers didn’t see a surge in oxytocin nor observed mutual gaze between wolves and the humans who attend to them.
Researchers found that female dogs that received a boost of oxytocin injection locked eye more with their owners than male dogs.
The study found out that humans may feel love towards their dog in much the same way they feel towards human relatives.
Understanding evolution mystery
While for dog lovers the findings may just go alone way into reinforcing the affection towards the canine at home, for scientists the finding offers hope to explain some evolutionary challenges. Many scientists have struggled to understand how man and dog came to such close harmony when they belong to different evolutionary tree branches.
“Evolution is a tinkerer, and when a small subset of species came up with the novel business of forming monogamous pair-bonds, the oxytocin system got co-opted to fuel the bonding,” said Sapolsky. He added that, “When humans and dogs came up with this even stranger, more unique relationship, it looks like oxytocin got co-opted for that as well.”
Some other scientists have cited that the experiment explains the power of oxytocin, which has long been understood to play a key role in the bond of mother and infant. According to Robert M. Sapolsky, a neurobiologist at Stanford University, the influence of oxytocin goes beyond the love of mother toward infant.