Ask the Expert: Does My Dog Actually Love Me?
Anyone who's had a dog run to greet them at the end of the day knows that dogs get excited when they see humans. Is this just blind affection, or is it true love? Our expert Dr. Jill weighs in.
It's difficult to conclude whether dogs feel emotions such as remorse, guilt or pride in the way we do. But I'm absolutely sure that dogs feel love. Our dog's love for us is seen in their physiology and behavior. When our dogs are reunited with us after a brief separation or gaze into our eyes, their oxytocin levels, a hormone associated with love, increase.
Our dogs' cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress, decrease when we're together. When our dogs greet us, they show many positive behaviors, including tail wagging and happy vocalizations. Our dogs seek physical contact from us, such as petting and belly rubs. Therefore, yes! It is clear dogs experience and show love for their people.
Spending time with dogs not only makes them happy; it also can have a positive impact on our health. The oxytocin Dr. Jill mentioned above also increases in humans when they hang out with dogs, so the act is mutually beneficial. Have any other questions for Dr. Jill? Ask them in the comments section below!
About Dr. Jill
Dr. Jill Villarreal lives and breathes all things pets. A doctor of biology, behavior and neuroscience (with a certificate in animal behavior), Jill is senior manager of pet sensory and perception insights over at Big Heart Pet Brands.
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