Oxytocin, a chemical generally known as "love hormone" may help in strengthening the bond between man and his dog , according to a new study. A team of researchers from Japan, studied the behavior of 16 pet adult dogs that belonged to different breeds after they were nasal sprayed with oxytocin. After the oxytocin they found that the dogs showed more affection towards their owners.
Humans release oxytocin from the pituitary gland, located underneath the brain. The hormone is released naturally during snuggling, childbirth, orgasms or breastfeeding. Until now, the oxytocin was known to bond mothers to their children and was associated with lovers , but the new finding has found that oxytocin may also help in increasing affection in nonromantic relationships between two different species as well, reported Live Science.
The researchers, for the study, divided the dogs into two groups and administered a group with oxytocin and the other with saline. They remained with the owners and once they started showing affection, they were separated. Owners, unaware of the type of spray their pet received, met their dogs and ignored any signs of affection as per instruction, in order to monitor the effects of oxytocin .
The dogs that received oxytocin, pawed and licked their owners in affection more than before, while dogs that sniffed saline, behaved normally. Oxytocin also made the dogs stare and sit close to their owners, which is friendly behaviour by dogs hoping to get noticed according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
While the functions of the hormone is unclear, the spray increased the heart beat of the animal allowing further secretion of oxytocin researchers say.
"Studies in humans have already shown that oxytocin affects our tendency to affiliate or cooperate with other people. We believe that oxytocin is a hormonal mechanism that facilitates the maintenance of close social bonds not only in dogs or cats, but also in any mammal species, since the oxytocin system is very ancient and has similar functions in a wide number of taxa," Discovery News quoted Miho Nagasawa, a veterinarian at Japan's Azabu University.
The recent study supports previous research that oxytocin may be linked to a bond between dogs and their owners. Researchers observed that when owners spent time and played with their dogs, the owners experienced natural release of oxytocin , according to a study in 2009.
It was also observed that oxytocin has positive effects on humans too. A study conducted in 2012, showed that fathers who received the hormone, spent more time with their 5-month-old children than fathers who did not.
But the love hormone has showed some non-social effects too. Previous study has shown that increased levels of the hormone may lead to rejection of outsiders. Dogs are yet to display this sort of behavior .