From buying pet meds online to taking them for a stroll around the block, we put in a lot of effort to keep our dogs happy and healthy. However, have you ever wondered, does your dog really love you? Yes, they do look at us with those soulful eyes, they wag their tails when we arrive after a long day at work, and they incessantly lick our faces. How do we know for sure that those are not just survival instincts dogs developed to be around humans? Without much ado, following are 3 separate scientific studies that prove dogs love their humans.
Their Oxytocin Levels Spike Up During Human Interactions: In case you are unfamiliar, oxytocin is the feel-good hormone in your body. It’s the chemical that generates the feeling of love, affection, and caring. Dogs have this hormone too. Back in 2015, a Japanese scientist was able to prove that dogs experience a heightened level of oxytocin every time they interacted with a human. The study involved collecting urine samples from dogs and measuring the oxytocin concentration. It was found that when dogs and humans maintain a steady and friendly eye contact the concentration of oxytocin increased significantly. Similar oxytocin spikes are seen when a mother gazes at her child and when two lovers look at each other.
What Does This Mean: When your dog gazes at you from a distance, it’s not just to monitor your movement. Dogs actually feel love when looking at humans they like.
MRI Scans Show Dogs Respond Emotionally: Scientists at Emory University specializing in animal cognition were successful in training dogs to lie still in MRI machines. Once they did, they started to track their neural responses to different stimuli. The neural activity showed that dogs displayed emotional responses closely associated with the feeling of happiness when the body scents of their respective owners were introduced. They were introduced to other unfamiliar smells of humans and pets, which failed to activate a similar response.
What Does This Mean: Dogs are not only loyal to their human parents but they actually feel love and happiness when around them. While they love humans in general, they do share a strong bond with their human family members.
Study Shows Dogs Love Human Smiles: A test group of 43 dogs was shown photos of smiling human faces by scientists at the University of Helsinki. The pupil sizes of the dogs were being constantly monitored along with their oxytocin levels to check their responses to the photos. It was conclusively proven that dogs react lovingly when looking at human smiles. Dogs in the same study group displayed dilated pupils when exposed to photos of angry looking faces.
What Does This Mean: This scientifically shows that dogs understand when humans are angry and when they are happy. Dogs are not only capable of understanding complicated human emotions but they are actually happy when you are happy. If that’s not love, what is?