Hormonal and Neurological Aspects of Dog Walking for Dog Owners and Pet Dogs
Department of Animal Health Technology, Yamazaki University of Animal Health Technology, Tokyo 192-0364, Japan
School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University, Sagamihara-shi 252-5201, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Polly Yeung
Received: 27 July 2021
Revised: 3 September 2021
Accepted: 15 September 2021
Published: 18 September 2021
Introduction: Dog walking is a common activity for dog owners and their dogs. We investigated the effects of dog walking on both owners and dogs, focusing on salivary oxytocin and cortisol (Experiment I) and brain neural activity (Experiment II). Methods: We collected saliva samples from 34 pairs of pet dogs and their owners at four time points (before dog walking, 15 min into the walk, at the end of the 30 min walk, and 10 min after the end of the walk). As a control, we assessed dog owners who took a walk without their dogs. We measured salivary oxytocin and cortisol with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits, monoamines, and GABA with high performance liquid chromatography. Results: In Experiment I, walking with a dog, relative to walking without a dog, did not affect the owners’ salivary oxytocin and cortisol, as in previous research. However, in Experiment II, walking with a dog decreased the owners’ salivary MHPG compared to walking without a dog. MHPG correlated negatively with GABAergic activity. Discussion and Conclusions: Dog walking did not boost the owners’ salivary oxytocin or cortisol but did inhibit brain noradrenergic nerves via GABA activity, suggesting stress relief.