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New Research: What Does it Mean When Your Dog Stares?

Posted April 17, 2015 in A Pet's Life

Dog staring at woman

My English Bulldog Harley, definitely knows my morning routine —and she loves to flash those big brown eyes right as I’m about to leave for work. Philosopher Martin Buber once said, “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” There have been a couple of times when my eyes met Harley’s and I felt like we fully understood each other. I was interested to learn from Science magazine that, “Human-like modes of communication, including mutual gaze, in dogs may have been acquired during domestication with humans.”

Cleary, this unique stare was of interest to researchers too, as Science puplished a report about it in March of 2015. As reported by Jan Hoffman, of the New York Times, “Japanese researchers found that dogs who trained a long gaze on their owners had elevated levels of oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that is associated with nurturing and attachment, similar to the feel-good feedback that bolsters bonding between parent and child.” 

According to Hoffman, Dr. Takefumi Kikusui, a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at Azabu University, was quite impressed by the way dogs stare. “There is a possibility that dogs cleverly and unknowingly utilized a natural system meant for bonding a parent with his or her child.”

The special bond between dogs and humans never ceases to amaze me. This isn’t the first study on the parental feelings toward dogs and it won’t be the last. I’m eager to read more. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my unique bond with Harley.

>> To read about research that shows dogs may view us as parents, click here. >>

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

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Tori has more than 2 years of experience in the pet health industry and is junior editor of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.

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The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.