Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University in Japan and colleagues conducted a study with 55 dogs and their owners. People whose dogs gazed at them for two minutes or longer (23 percent of dogs) showed a higher increase in oxytocin than people whose dogs gazed at them for less time. People with dogs with a long gaze also reported being happier with their dogs than those people whose dog’s gaze was only around a minute long.
owners who kissed their dogs the most frequently had higher levels of oxytocin than other owners.
Handlin found that along with kissing, there were two other factors that predicted the higher levels of oxytocin — the first was that the owners were more likely to perceive their relationship with their dog as pleasurable (i.e., they did not think that looking after their dog was difficult or a chore). The second was a lower frequency in giving treats, showing that the path to true love is not necessarily through a dog’s stomach.
Humanity’s relationship with dogs is so extraordinary that it affects humans’ very biochemistry. Science is only beginning to understand the mechanisms of this relationship