You know your dog loves you. After all, he comes running whenever you call his name, throws the tennis ball when you throw it, and probably hops into bed with you just to be closer to you.
This unconditional love might seem like something that can’t be explained by science. However, dogs are one of the few non-human animals known to have a sense of oxytocin, also called the love hormone. This is because dogs have a similar gene structure as humans, which makes them susceptible to having oxytocin receptors in their brain.
But what exactly does this mean for your pup and his love for you? Let’s take a look at the benefits of oxytocin and the ways it can come into play when bonding with your dog.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that is naturally produced in the hypothalamus and released into the blood stream. This hormone is released during various social interactions, including childbirth, breastfeeding, and bonding with your dog.
The effects of oxytocin on the brain can vary depending on the situation. For example, oxytocin can cause feelings of bonding, empathy, and generosity during situations such as childbirth and breastfeeding. In dogs, oxytocin has been linked to improving trust and cooperation.
The Benefits of Oxytocin for Dogs and Humans
There are many benefits of oxytocin for both humans and dogs.
For dogs, oxytocin is linked to feelings of trust and cooperation with other dogs and their human owners. Dogs that have been given oxytocin have been found to be more likely to follow human gestures, such as pointing at things.
In humans, oxytocin has been linked to feelings of happiness, optimism, and trust. One study showed that when people inhaled oxytocin, they were more generous in their judgements and more likely to help others.
If you’re in a relationship, oxytocin has been linked to increased feelings of love and trust between couples.
How Can Dogs Benefit from Oxytocin?
Dogs that are given oxytocin have been found to have increased levels of trust and cooperation with their owners and other dogs. This means that dogs given oxytocin are less likely to feel fear or aggression and are more likely to want to follow the gestures of others.
Humans use the bonding hormone oxytocin to create a sense of trust and love between people. Since dogs naturally produce oxytocin and are affected by it, it makes sense that dogs can be calmed and made more trusting by giving them shots of oxytocin.
If you’re caring for an elderly dog or a dog with a disability, it could be beneficial to give your dog a shot of oxytocin. This could help to quell your dog’s anxiety about being in an unfamiliar situation and make him more interested in following directions from you.
Dogs can Identify Individuals Through Their Sense of Smell
Many people know that dogs can recognize the smell of their owners, but they might not know why. Humans can recognize and identify other people by their smell, but dogs can do the same thing with their olfactory sense.
While we can generally tell what our loved ones smell like, dogs can identify people based on differences in the way their smell. The olfactory sense of a dog is millions of times more sensitive than that of a human, making it easy for dogs to pick up on the subtle differences between scents.
Dogs can smell pheromones and other chemicals given off by other individuals. These scents give dogs information about individuals’ gender, age, and even psychological and emotional state.
Dogs can feel Cooperation and Trust Through Oxytocin
As we’ve seen, oxytocin can increase feelings of optimism, trust, and cooperation, but it also has the potential to do more than just make us feel good. Studies have found that oxytocin can actually create a strong sense of trust between participants in experiments.
While we know that dogs have feelings of trust toward their owners, dogs might actually be able to feel oxytocin during bonding moments that prompt feelings of trust. Dogs might feel the positive effects of oxytocin during or after playtime or other moments of bonding between an owner and their dog.
Your pup may love you unconditionally, but he also loves himself, and he’s got a hormone on his side to prove it. Oxytocin has been linked to feelings of optimism and a strong sense of trust between individuals. These are two very important things in any relationship, and they can be especially important when it comes to bonding with your dog.
The benefits of oxytocin for dogs and humans are plentiful, making it an important hormone that can bridge the gap between owner and pet. If you’re caring for an elderly dog or a dog with a disability, consider giving your dog a shot of oxytocin.