Effect of Dogs’ Seeing on Owners’ Peeing

Does looking at the amount of oxytocin in dog owners’ pee as those owners respond to their dogs’ gaze affect the amount of oxytocin in the pee of the researchers looking at the owners responding to the dogs’ looking at them? That lengthy question is not addressed in this study:

Dog’s gaze at its owner increases owner’s urinary oxytocin during social interaction,” Miho Nagasawa, Takefumi Kikusui, Tatsushi Onaka, Mitsuaki Ohta, Hormones and Behavior, vol. 55, no. 3, March 2009, pp. 434–441. The authors, at Azabu University and Jichi Medical University, Japan, report:

“Oxytocin (OT) has been shown to play an important role in social bonding in animals…. In this study, to examine the possibility that urinary OT concentrations of owners were increased by their “dog’s gaze”, perhaps representing social attachment to their owners, we measured urinary OT concentrations of owners before and after interaction with their dogs. Dog owners interacted with their dogs as usual for 30 min (interaction experiment) or were instructed not to look at their dogs directly (control experiment). We observed the behaviors of owners and their dogs during the experiments, and measured OT concentrations by radioimmunoassay in urine samples from the owners collected just before and 20 min after interaction with their dogs…. We conclude that interactions with dogs, especially those initiated by the dog’s gaze, can increase the urinary OT concentrations of their owners as a manifestation of attachment behavior.”

Here’s detail from the study:


(Thanks to investigator Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.)