Some dog owners treat their dogs like their babies. While this might seem ridiculous to some, a new study in Science proves the bond between dogs and their owners can be as emotionally strong as the connection between mothers and their children.
It’s the latest in a growing body of science that explains how dogs have gained such an important place in human society.
“Owner-dog bonding is comparable to parent-infant bonding,” writes Takefumi Kikusui, from Azabu University in Japan, via email. “And this is surprising to us … because there is not a reproductive relationship between humans and dogs.”
But any dog lover who has gazed into the big eyes of a pleading pup is not surprised.
Previously, the researchers had shown the eye connection between dogs and humans increases the levels of oxytocin in people. Oxytocin, aka the “cuddle chemical,” is a hormone mammals produce in the brain that encourages bonding between mothers and their offspring. It’s also involved in partner and social bonding.
Most evidence shows this kind of connection works within a species— humans produce oxytocin because of other humans, and dogs produce it because of other dogs.
But the new study is the first to show the hormonal bonding between dog and human.
That is, the feeling is mutual.
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