Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Eye-Gaze and the Human/Dog Bond

When dogs stare into their persons' eyes (and vice versa), the gaze activates a hormonal response that reinforces their bonding system.

It's well known that oxytocin, the so-called cuddle hormone, strengthens human social ties.  In new love relationships, people produce higher levels of oxytocin. It's why mothers are heads over heels in love with their babies. 

And now scientists say it's why people who make gaga eyes at their dogs have more oxytocin in their blood, and why their dogs do, too.

Mutual gazing has an intense effect on both the dog and the owner.  The researchers suggest that human-dog interactions elicit the same type of oxytocin positive feedback loop as seen between mothers and their infants.  
One caveat though. Don't try this at home with a wolf.
In wolves, eye gaze signals aggression.
Better to look at your feet.
Read more in The New York Times or check out the the scientific journal article, Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and coevolution of human-dog bonds.


  1. I have a border collie, so the gaze is a constant event in our house, lol.
    He thinks I can read his mind so usually I say, what do you want and he leads me to it, so I can give him what he wants, but usually it means, I have rested long enough, time to go out and play again.


  2. Dogs also view eye gazing as aggression if the person is a stranger. For example, you don't want to eye gaze with a german shepherd you do not own.