As dog lovers, we can’t resist showering our dogs with affection whenever we come home. And it turns out that the way we choose to greet our dogs after being gone for a long time has an effect on their happiness and the way they feel love for us. A study in in the journal Physiology and Behavior examined how dogs react to verbal cues and touch after being separated from a familiar person for a long time.
The experiment involved observing 12 Beagles in a situation meant to mimic being left alone for 25 minutes. Dogs aren’t good at discriminating length of time, and anything over 15 minutes is just a long time to them. Each dog was left in a room with an unfamiliar veterinary student that didn’t interact with the dog. When a familiar person returned to the room, the way they greeted the dog was scripted.
One group greeted their dogs with a soft soothing voice and pets. Another group greeted their dogs only with verbal affection. The last group did not interact with the dog at all and just sat in the room and read a magazine. The first group of dogs that got pets and verbal affection showed a high spike in oxytocin, the hormone produced when feeling love. The group that didn’t get physical affection showed high oxytocin levels, but they faded much more quickly. The third group of dogs that didn’t get any signs of affection showed an initial spike in oxytocin when the familiar person entered the room, but it faded quickly, and the dogs began to show signs of stress, even going to the unfamiliar veterinary student for affection.
This study shows the importance of physical touch when it comes to greeting your dog. Touching will definitely help the production of oxytocin, letting your dog know that he is safe and loved. It will only deepen your relationship with your pup. So make sure that you spend a good amount of time showering your dog with praise and pets when you walk through the door.
How does your dog respond to your greetings when you get home? Do you make physical contact with your pup every time you come home? Let us know in the comments below!