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The science behind human - canine bond

03 Aug 2015 | by | Posted in: Wag Wiki


Since times immemorial the human – canine bond has been treasured and admired all over the world. The bond has evolved – from dogs being game hunters to being companions and family members – and we could not happier. The bond is so strong that we feel connected with our furry kids. Every time I look at my 4.5 year old Labrador retriever, Myshka, it’s like I can read her mind and understand what she wants and what she likes. Her expressive eyes, her wagging tail and the twitch of her ears and she knows that we have connected.

What causes the bond?

If you are wondering about the reason behind the strong bond that we share with our dogs, science has the answer to it. According to a study conducted by the Department of Psychology – Neuroscience & Behaviour at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and the bond is created when the hormones of the dogs synchronize and match the hormones of their owners / pet parents.

Main hormones

Every being has hormones. Some hormones are the parent hormone and help control the release of other hormones. Some of the main hormones are:

Name of the Gland Hormone Function
Pituitary Gland Pituitary
  • Controls hormone Release
  • Controls the growth
  Prolactin / Mammary Gland
  • Produces lactate / milk
  TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
  •  Stimulates the thyroid gland
   Luteinizing hormone (LH) / follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  •  Controls the heat cycles and ovulation
  Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
  • Helps Adrenal Gland to produce cortisol
  Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) 
  • Affects pigments
  Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) 
  • Regulates metabolism of water
Thyroid Thyroxine  
Ovaries Progestrone & Estrogens   
Testes Testosterone  
Pancreas Insulin
  • Regulates blood sugar
Adrenal ACTH
  • Produces naturally occurring steroids called corticosteroids, mineraleocorticoids and adrenal sex steroids

*Each hormone plays an important and complex role in regulating the body’s functions

What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is one of the most dominant hormones in any being. When being expressed love and affection by a loved one, the oxytocin levels go up . It also acts as a neurotransmitter and plays a huge part in bonding and companionship

Key readings:

  • Humans and dogs affect each other’s Oxytocin levels (the love hormone)
  • When we make an eye contact with our pooches, they too elicit signs and signals that are similar to what a couple would feel or when a mother looks at her child.
  • Oxytocin helps play a key role in social interactions
  • It also helps reduce stress and reduce the occurence of coronary problems.

There is a reason why we are connected to our pooches and having their favourite food or treats is not one of them. It is the hormone and a good one at that!

Image source: UA Dog Study.Net


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"An ardent writer, a devoted pet parent and a foodie at heart, I believe life is all about new experiences and expressions"

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