There’s a lot of things you can do for your health: eat right, exercise often, meditate. Now you know that you can also add gazing into puppy dog eyes to that list.
A recent study published in this week’s issue of Science suggests that by gazing into your dog’s eyes, you can boost a hormone called oxytocin. Also known as “the love hormone,” oxytocin helps reinforce the bond between parent and child, and apparently also helps strengthen the attachment between dogs and their owners.
The study found that sustained eye contact between people and dogs caused oxytocin levels to rise up to 130 percent in dogs and 300 percent in people.
Oxytocin is not solely related to love. It also has a strong connection to the feeling of emotional isolation, aggression, or even shame. When you give your dog an angry look, and he gets the classic “guilty dog” look, that’s oxytocin at work too. The bond between you and your dog allows him to read your expression and understand that you’re upset when he’s torn up the couch pillows or peed on the carpet.
When people share eye contact with their dogs, the two species create a self-perpetuating feedback loop that was likely one of the roots that led to dogs being domesticated from wolves thousands of years ago. In fact, it’s a response that’s unheard of in their close cousin, the wolf. By mutually boosting oxytocin levels, the first dogs earned human trust and taught humans to trust them in return.
Want to get your puppy dog eyes fix? This video might be one the best things you do for your health all day.
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