Have you ever looked at your dog and wondered just how much the cutie really loves you? Their sweet faces always seem so full of affection, especially after a snuggle session or some belly rubs from their favorite human. Don’t worry, you’re not crazy if you think all of the love and gratitude you give your pup is radiating right back at you.
Scientists confirmed those suspicions in a 2017 study on the effect of raised oxytocin levels, also known as the “love hormone,” in dogs. The study tested 43 dogs by administering a dose of oxytocin nasally, then observing the dogs’ gazes and pupil measurements when presenting them with two photos: One of a cheerful man smiling and another of the same man frowning and looking more aggressive. When the oxytocin levels were higher, the dogs gravitated toward the smiling photo more. Without the hormone boost, the dogs looked at both photos rather than favoring one over the other. The only difference was their pupils became dilated when observing the angry face (as they had no oxytocin to calm them down during a potential threat).
Basically, this means that you can tell how much love your dog is feeling for you by how they react to seeing your smiling face! If they are feeling dejected, they’re more likely to ignore your grin and move on — but if they are feeling happy and well-loved, you can possibly expect them to come running for more of that mood-boosting oxytocin. It’s similar to how cats will blink slowly at their owners when they’re feeling especially amiable. Of course, with dogs it might result in your pooch pouncing on you to lick your face. That’s just the good boy or girl’s way of saying, “I love you, too!”
And since we humans also have oxytocin in our systems, hanging out with man's best friend is a mutually beneficial way to raise those levels for us, too, and cure any case of the blues. It’s something most dog owners have known all along, but now there’s undeniable scientific evidence to back it up.
Next, watch adorable pups who try practicing their swimming without any water in the video below: