oxytocin promotes social bonding in dogs (background/context (studies have…
oxytocin promotes social bonding in dogs
sociality can increase fitness; evolved to help animals escape predation and defend food. additionally, strong social bonds between members of a group, aside from the necessity of reproduction, help to promote survivability and longer life spans
oxytocin may have a role in maintaining non-sexual "friendships" but the neurological and molecular mechanisms to create these bonds are unknown
the role of oxytocin in reproduction is known: humans and other monogamous mammals are flooded with the hormone before/during/after sex to promote bonding. oxytocin is also released during birth and breastfeeding
studies have shown that oxytocin may be responsible for friendship-promoting behaviors such as trusting, cooperation, generosity, empathy, social perception, and sensitivity
*in humans and nonhuman primates
does oxytocin facilitate nonsexual social bonds in domestic dogs?
if true, dogs given additional oxytocin will display more social, bond-promoting behaviors than dogs given placebo
sixteen dogs were used as subjects and a mixture of owners and siblings were used as partners. heart rate and behavioral cues were measured before and after administration of either oxytocin or placebo saline solution.
behaviors analyzed include licking, sniffing, attempts to play, making physical contact, and reciprocation
the study demonstrates that oxytocin may motivate domestic dogs to engage in nonsexual social behaviors and to establish friendships.
motivation to maintain friendships may stem from reward and past experience, not necessarily from fitness benefits
oxytocin triggers social behavior. when an animal engages in a social behavior, more oxytocin is released, suggesting a positive feedback loop for the oxytocin pathway
dogs given oxytocin demonstrated more affiliation behaviors and increased social orientation towards their owners/partners than those who were given saline solution
pre-trial oxytocin measure, sex, or kinship, had no statistically significant effect on behaviors during test
question not mentioned in article
what is the role of oxytocin in the engagement of altruistic acts? a similar study could involve the administration of oxytocin and a placebo and subsequently introduce a situation where a subject can be altruistic. are altruistic behaviors more likely to happen with increased oxytocin?