When I stare into my dog’s chocolate eyes, the struggle to contain myself is real. This little 15 pound creature elicits such joy, adoration, and love that I wonder how it’s even possible. After all, he’s not *technically* my baby—even this crazy dog mom can acknowledge Pumpkin does not have human DNA.
But I recently learned how dogs elicit such joy in humans, and it was revealed by, of all things, science. A recent study published in Science journal proves that there’s a hormonal reason behind the pup-parent bond. That hormone is oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone.”
Japanese researchers have found that when we look into our dog’s eyes and they look back, oxytocin spikes in both human and canine brains alike. This release is similar to that in primate human-child bonding.
The study also shows that wolves did not experience the same bio-chemical spikes, suggesting that in the domestication process dogs evolved to possess sensitivity to what makes humans bond.
Says senior study author Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University:
“It is possible that dogs cleverly and unknowingly ‘hijacked’ the natural system meant for bonding a parent with his or her child.”
So next time your pup gazes up at you? Enjoy the brain wash and know it’s love.