Dogs Are Basically Humans, Says Best Study Ever

Photo: eva_blanco / Shutterstock
couple and their dog

Many people argue that dogs aren't all that different from their human counterparts — and as it turns, science now says they're right.

Dogs just want to feel love, just like the rest of us.

The findings of a Japanese study published in the journal "Science" reveal that our canine companions experience the same burst of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for love and bonding, that we do when they gaze into their owner's eyes.

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The study involved the owners of 30 dogs — whose breeds included golden and Labrador retrievers, miniature schnauzers and dachshunds, standard and toy poodles, and a boxer, border collie, German shepherd, and Shetland sheepdog — all of whom were asked to look into their pup's eyes.

The longer the humans and dogs stared into each other's eyes, the greater the oxytocin boost both person and pupper received.

Oxytocin is the hormone associated with attachment and love, the same hormone responsible for bonding children and their parents.

Just to be sure, researchers observed similar interactions between wolves and the "animal management professionals who had raised, fed and played with them."

The wolves would not return their persons' gaze, and there was no oxytocin surge. This is likely because wolves view eye contact as an act of aggression, whereas dogs have evolved over time to exhibit more human traits.

So to people who argue that they love their pets as though they were their child, you aren't totally nuts.

The sentiment isn't only genuine, it's one your doggo returns.

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In an additional experiment, the researchers decided to inject each dog with a dose of oxytocin just before being sent to spend 30 minutes with their owners.

"The hormone boost increased the number of times and the duration for which female dogs locked eyes with their owners," reports the LA Times, "in turn sending more oxytocin into their owners’ blood. The same response was not noted in male dogs."

How can you put this newfound knowledge to use with your own favorite pup?

The answer is simple: praise them and give them treats when they make eye contact with you.

"When your dog makes eye contact, praise your dog and give them a treat. After a few repetitions, your dog will learn that this is what you want and you will find your dog looking to make eye contact more often.

This way the dog makes positive associations with paying attention to its owner and the oxytocin bonding is an added benefit,” Elisha Stynchula, general manager and partner of dog and puppy training academy, I Said Sit, in Los Angeles tells us.

Hmm. Looks like we need to buy more treats!

RELATED: Dogs Actually Understand The Words We Say (Says Study)

Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.