Magazine article Work & Family Life

The Science Behind Those Puppy-Dog Eyes

Magazine article Work & Family Life

The Science Behind Those Puppy-Dog Eyes

Article excerpt

Who can resist the gaze of those big brown eyes? Not us mortals, apparently. Japanese researchers have found that when dogs make extended eye contact with their owners, both dog and owner produce elevated levels of oxytocin, a hormone in the brain that's associated with attachment. It's similar to the feel-good feedback parents experience when they bond with their infants.

Eye contact may be a big part of why dogs became domesticated to begin with. The study suggests that a dog's gaze cues connection and response in the owner, who rewards the dog by talking, touching, feeding and gazing back-all of which can strengthen the bond between the two.

"Oxytocin can boost social interaction between two very different species," according to Dr. Steve Chang, who teachers psychology and neurobiology at Yale and studies oxytocin in animals. "Änd through domestication, dogs came to regard humans as their key social partners."

Researchers in Japan also tested wolves raised by humans to determine whether the wolf-to-owner gaze raised oxytocin levels in either or both. But the wolves made very little eye contact with their owners, and the owners' oxytocin levels were unchanged. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.