Have you ever wondered why you and your dog lock into a staring contest? How does that make you feel? Did you know there are health benefits for both you and your dog? So by all means, go ahead, and stare into your dog’s eyes
When you lock into a gaze with your dog this could be the point where you are creating a powerful biological and loving bond between you and your loving pet. This is very much like a mother who gazes into her infant’s eyes and a bond is created. Being a mother and a dog owner myself, I can understand this bond.
Researchers studied how and why humans and dogs stare at each other and more importantly what happens. The results are amazing.
When you lock into a gaze it produces the hormone oxytocin that is associated with bonding and nurturing. This hormone release has health benefits for both you and your dog. The release of oxytocin makes you both feel loved and encourages you to smile.
Reading an article in “Psychology Today’s blog/dogs-best-friend”, oxytocin is deemed to be involved in controlling, fear, stress, social interactions, love, empathy and the bonding and acceptance of others. It also lowers cortisol, may help to improve cardiac health and lower blood pressure.
Two of the many experiments that were conducted involving dogs and their owners, where they were divided into two separate groups. One called long gazers and the other short gazers. Even though the long gazer group showed higher levels of the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, both groups did exhibit elevated levels. Not only are there health benefits, but gazing into your dog’s eyes also helps you communicate.
Live Science noted a study showing the connection between raised oxytocin levels and greater ability to interact with other people. They disclosed that people who have autism, when exposed to oxytocin, allowed them to interact easier and with less fear.
The NY Times posted a quote from Dr. Evan L MacLean, co-director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center: “If I was dropped on Mars and everyone was speaking a language I didn’t understand and I knew I could never acquire their language, I’d just give up. But dogs don’t”.
Go ahead, sit with your dog, and stare into your dog’s eyes. Enjoy the feeling of relaxation and feeling loved. Your dog may not always want a treat when he looks at you, he/she might just want to bond with you.