Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, and we have a special #FeelGoodFriday blog post in spirit of the holiday. Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love with those around you and feeling it in return. We don’t know about you, but our pups always take the cake for making us feel that unconditional Valentine’s Day love. Sometimes we wonder if their ability to make us feel so happy is magic, but today we’re going to tell you about the science behind why dog love trumps all. If you have a pup nearby, now is the time to give him/her a big hug.
Do you ever just feel like your dog gets it? Or maybe you don’t have a dog, but you constantly find yourself locking eyes with a dog on a walk and getting this sudden urge to pet it. Well, these feelings are happening for a reason. Dogs have an uncanny ability to bond with humans and to understand our emotions. The reason behind that is likely related to the domestication of dogs over ten thousand years ago.
Recent studies show that gazing into your dog’s eyes for prolonged periods of time significantly increases your oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is that feel good hormone that helps reduce anxiety and stress. What that means is the longer you gaze into your pup’s loving eyes, the less anxious you feel. The concept of “mutual gazing” and oxytocin release when staring into another’s eyes comes from mothers looking into their babies eyes. When people call their dogs their “fur babies” they really aren’t kidding. That also means the more you stare into your dog’s eyes, the less stressed out you feel. This is something we all need more of at the end of a long day of work.
While locking eyes with your dog can help calm you both down, we don’t recommend you start roaming the streets in an effort to make intense eye contact with every dog you see. Staring directly into the eyes of a dog can give it anxiety if it does not yet know and trust you. This is a feeling quite similar to that of humans.
Research generally suggests that those people who own dogs are all around happier and healthier than those without. There are multiple reasons to explains why, to start, when you have a dog you need to incorporate much more activity into your life with daily playtime and walks. This helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure, thus decreasing your risk for heart disease and related illnesses.
On top of that, the stress relief people feel when they interact with their dogs also aids in their decreased levels of anxiety and feeling of loneliness. The desire to just watch Netflix and chill on the couch with your pup is a real feeling that science supports. Dogs provide immense comfort to people in a similar way that people can provide comfort to dogs. This parallels the uptrend in dogs becoming certified as support animals due to their ability to decrease anxiety and stress just by being in your physical presence.
When we ask our Fosters or those people who adopt dogs through us what it’s like, we are always told that the dog has changed the person’s life just as much as the reverse. People and dogs have a truly unique relationship that has been built over thousands of years and scientists continue to find more reasons why dogs are truly “man’s best friend”.
If you are someone who has experienced the unexplainable “doggie feels” before and wants to spend more time around dogs, check out our volunteer page. There are so many ways to start spending more time with dogs in need and experiencing their calming effects. If you’re ready to feel that unexplainable dog-human connection on the regular and have interest in adopting a dog, check out our available dogs for adoption. Also, stop by our newly opened Adoption Center!