Study: The human-dog relationship is like a parent-child relationship
We recently came across a recent article (and brief video), entitled, Dogs and people bond through eye contact, which reinforces the idea that the human-dog relationship is like a parent-child relationship. A recent study was conducted at Azabu University in Japan, that examined the impact of the gaze in the dogs and their humans and found “that those puppy dog eyes are even more meaningful than we thought.” “Our data suggest that owner-dog bonding is comparable to human parent-infant bonding, that is, oxytocin-mediated eye-gaze bonding…and this is surprising to us because there is not a reproductive relationship between human and dogs, but both of them have acquired similar skills.”
The study found via experiments that when the humans and their dogs gazed into one another’s eyes, levels of oxytocin increased in both the humans and the dogs. “Dogs are known to be particularly good at reading their owners moods and that they exhibit a trait known as gaze following – essentially following the actions of humans – much as an infant or child might do.”
Another study was conducted via brain imaging that used mothers as the subject of the study, which showed that “we respond to our dogs quite a bit like human children.” Specifically, the mothers who were shown images of either their own child or somebody else’s child and their own dog or somebody else’s dog. Researchers found that mothers responded very similarly when they saw images of their own child or their own dog; but they did not have that response while looking at another’s child or another’s dog.
To us, the conclusion of these studies, that we respond to our dogs in a similar way to our human children, make sense due to our bond and relationship with Biscuit and now Victory. Having a strong and unique bond with furry family members is also great practice for being human parents — which, albeit is a bit more involved, but the bond and premise remains the same in our eyes.