However, new research suggests that this loving look may mean just as much to him as it does to you. Apparently when you and your dog make eye contact, you both get a boost of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for facilitating breastfeeding and creating a bond between human parents and their offspring. It's also thought to play a role in trust and emotional bonding.
Dog owners are already well aware that their pets have feelings, but now even crazy dog ladies (like me) can defend their actions by citing the results of this study. Blame it on the oxytocin. What's even more interesting is the fact that this is likely an evolutionary adaptation due to our unique relationships with our pets. The result wasn't the same when handlers gazed into the eyes of wolves.
Looking back through the photo roll on my phone that is completely saturated with pictures of my dogs, family members' dogs and our many foster dogs, I instantly feel justified. Thank you, science, for confirming that this behaviour is OK, because after all, we'd do just about anything for the people (and dogs) we love and who love us too. These are the times I was pretty sure I had earned "crazy dog lady" status, but I now know I was just being a good doggy mom.
Image: Tangled Lilac Photography
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