Both canines and humans get a surge in oxytocin when eyes lock, tightening their social bond
Dogs and people have true chemistry. When staring deeply into each other’s eyes, each species experiences a rush of the cuddle-chemical oxytocin.
In an experiment, people shared long mutual gazes with their beloved dogs, sometimes lasting more than a minute. Afterward, concentrations of oxytocin that the dogs released in their urine at least doubled from pretest levels, researchers in Japan report in the April 17 Science. And dosing dogs with extra oxytocin lengthened the time that some dogs stared into their owners’ eyes.
Earlier work found an oxytocin rush in people, too, as they melted into the deep gaze of their dogs. The new results demonstrate the existence of a return swoop of this emotional feedback loop: A comparable canine oxytocin rush leads to even more gazing between humans and their pets.