Canine Endogenous Oxytocin Responses to Dog-Walking and Affiliative Human–Dog Interactions
Charles Perkins Centre, Prevention Research Collaboration, Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia
Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia
Autism Clinic for Translational Research, Brain and Mind Centre, Central Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors are joint senior authors on this work.
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 5 February 2019 / Accepted: 6 February 2019 / Published: 8 February 2019
It is widely recognized that humans and dogs share a unique relationship. However, the biological mechanisms that may contribute to this bond between owners and their pet dogs are still unclear. As such, we measured the concentration of oxytocin, a hormone that is important in social bonding, in dogs before and after two different activities: dog-walking and human–dog interactions. We also investigated whether the strength of an owner’s attachment to their dog affected the dog’s oxytocin concentration. Contradicting our suppositions, the experiment showed that the concentration of dog oxytocin was not substantially different following either dog-walking or human–dog interactions. Additionally, the strength of the human–dog bond did not affect oxytocin concentrations. We suggest that more research is needed to fully understand the role of oxytocin in human–dog bonding.