Domestication of Man’s Best Friend

I am not a pushover. However. When my golden looks at me with his big brown eyes I can’t help but give him what he’s asking for.  I am a stereotypical dog owner in the sense that I believe my dog is the most attractive, smartest, sweetest dog in the world.  There’s something about dogs that makes them the perfect family members.  Dogs never talk back, they supply unconditional love, and they can melt the stress right off.  John Hartigan describes why dogs were the perfect animals for domestication in his article, Puppy-Dog eyes of science.   In this article Hartigan talks about how dogs and humans have a symbiotic relationship in many ways, one of them being the release of the chemical oxytocin.   The domestication process started with dogs because of their adoption of human traits, especially eye contact.  Because these animals adopted, and expressed human like qualities, their behavior mimics the traits that cue us to give care towards our own young.  During the domestication of dogs, these animals literally used their cute, fuzzy faces to spark the caretaking drive that is expressed when we have our own children.   Not only do dogs elicit this parenting response from us, but through the evolution of domestication, we have developed a symbiotic hormonal release of the chemical oxytocin when humans and canines look into each other’s eyes.  The article then goes on to explain that this joint release of oxytocin in both the dog and human parallel the way that a mother bonds with her newborn.   So next time you need a little pick-me-up, find a furry friend to give you a hearty dose of the “love drug.”