Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds | Science 17 April 2015
Dog handlers know this to be the case. This study published in Science magazine confirms the stare from dogs triggers pleasure in humans, and staring back triggers pleasure in dogs. I use the dog stare and several other gestures I have read about to reward my dogs for good behavior. English cocker spaniels can interpret praise by words and touching as permission to stop what they are doing when I want them to continue the same behavior. Read this research report and let me know what you think. Thanks to Aaron Frey for the picture of Prairie Marsh Robin Goodfellow “Puck” delivering a chukar during an April 2015 Mid-Atlantic Hunting Spaniel Club training day at Mason Dixon Hunting Farm near Glen Rock, PA.
Human-like modes of communication, including mutual gaze, in dogs may have been acquired during domestication with humans. We show that gazing behavior from dogs, but not wolves, increased urinary oxytocin concentrations in owners, which consequently facilitated owners’ affiliation and increased oxytocin concentration in dogs. Further, nasally administered oxytocin increased gazing behavior in dogs, which in turn increased urinary oxytocin concentrations in owners. These findings support the existence of an interspecies oxytocin-mediated positive loop facilitated and modulated by gazing, which may have supported the coevolution of human-dog bonding by engaging common modes of communicating social attachment.