Building your dog’s trust in you takes time. Although dogs tend to show us affection at once, trust is something we must earn.
Touch is very important to dogs (humans too). Dogs, like humans, are social animals and enjoy interaction with their own species as well as others. Petting gives a dog a positive, feel good feeling.
Depending on how we greet our pets, there can be different emotional responses from them.
A study in Sweden used 12 Beagles in an experiment to judge their responses after being separated from their owners for a time.
The dogs were left by their humans in a familiar room for 25 minutes. An unfamiliar veterinary student, who ignored the dogs, remained in the room to collect blood samples to measure the hormones, oxytoxin and cortisol, in response to their humans returning.
High levels of oxytoxin are released when social interaction are positive and show happiness. Cortisol is the opposite and is released during times of stress, fear, tension.
After the 25 minutes elapsed, the owners returned, each told to greet his/her dog in one of three ways. One was using a positive tone of voice along with touching; the second was using only the positive voice; and the third was a non-greeting with owner ignoring the dog, walking to a chair, sitting down and reading a magazine.
Blood tests revealed that at the sight of their owners, oxytoxin levels rose and cortisol levels dropped dramatically. The dogs greeted with both positive vocalizations and touch showed the highest amounts of oxytoxin released which lasted a long time. The dogs greeted with vocalization only had a shorter response time. The dogs who were not greeted at all appeared unhappy and confused and even approached the veterinary student, looking for interaction.
This study indicates how important the way we greet our dogs is to them. Our dogs greet us heartily whether we’re gone for 5 minutes or all day. We know they deserve our attention and should always give them back that feeling of being missed and loved in return.