Oxytocin: Why Dogs Make Us Happy

Dogs rule. I think that’s pretty much established across the universe.

Part of it has to do with them being mammal and the fact they live worry-free.

The dog’s development has always been right alongside that of humans, which is probably a reason why Charles Darwin took a liking to studying his own dogs; and dogs in general.

If you’ve owned dogs all your life, or recently became a dog owner, then you know the great pleasures of owning a dog.

The second your dog looks at you, you start feeling an awesome high. It’s hard to explain, especially if your brain’s never experienced the soothing properties of this stuff. When dogs see us in the morning, physically, their tails wag, they jump, some even smile–they go through the same thing.

The culprit? Oxytocin. The Love Drug, for mammals.

Though it may sound like a street drug, it’s 100% natural, promise. Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone produced in the brain when cool stuff is going down.

Let me elaborate.

Oxytocin is actually Greek for “quick birth.” Women release large amounts of oxytocin during child birth to assist with the stressing of the cervix. Oxytocin also plays a huge roll during breastfeeding; acting as a mammary gland, allowing milk to travel down to the nipple during feeding. These high levels of oxytocin allow mothers to instantaneously become the loving and nourishing goddesses they are known to be.

But the biggest role oxytocin plays in mammalian development, if we plan to stay on topic (I said nipple), is bonding. Studies show that oxytocin helps with the sociological behavior of humans when forming a strong bond, amongst a few other things like:

  • Anti-depression
  • Stress relief
  • Increase of self-esteem

Both dog and human produce oxytocin when they’re around each other. It allows dog and human to dive deep into each others souls and form a strong bond. Simply interacting with your dog will make you a happier human being. Studies however show that there is sometimes no connection for some people and dogs. There are humans who can’t produce normal amounts of oxytocin, so often times, these people can be very un-social, sad, and or very shy–also a reason why some women receive shots of oxytocin during labor.

Dogs help us enjoy the quality things in life. They help us find hobbies; the kind that help us live longer and stay connected with life. Dogs help increase the chances of you finding what it is you were meant to do in life. They take you places you’ve never been. Introduce you to people you’d never meet. There is no five minutes later or tomorrow; for dogs, it’s all in the moment. They live for the moment ONLY.

In essence, simply being a social human allows us to produce oxytocin. Without it, we would not be the social creatures we are known to be. And for dogs, being mammal, grants them the very same ability.

I think it’s embedded in us humans to be hands on. We can only work behind a computer for so long creating virtual products and services, only to miss out on the simpler, less stressful things in life. Dogs help curb our technology dependencies and drag us into the social mix. They help balance life the way it should be. They help us love like they do.

How Dogs Make Us Human

Dogs drag you into social mixes

If you are a dog lover, but shy with humans, taking your dog to an off-leash park will force you to interact with other dogs and their humans. I can’t tell you how many interesting people I’ve met in dog parks. I’ve met: firefighters, teachers, businessmen and women, military men and women, musicians, hippies, you name it — all with different life experiences. It’s feels good to talk to someone whom you might never see again, about dogs or life. That’s what being social is all about. Life’s about the world and the people that live in it — and dogs, duh. Dog lovers, in my experience, are very approachable and sociable when it comes to first-time interactions.

Dogs increase the chances of meeting random people off the street

Being anywhere in public with your dog can increase the chances of striking a conversation with a random stranger. People walking their dog, or people who don’t own a dog never hesitate to tell someone how cute their dog is. Conversations can be as short as a few seconds or as long as a few hours. Regardless of the duration, it beats the complete unawareness humans show to one another in public. These random interactions can lead to business opportunities, new friends, even a boyfriend or girlfriend. The world is a big place. You never know who you’re going to bump into because of, “Hi, cute dog!”

Dogs urge you to get out of the house

You can be nonathletic, or simply hate the outdoors, but owning a dog changes that for the better. We are sometimes limited to the run space in our homes, so we find ample space for our dogs to play in. Even if you just like sitting on the grass while you watch your dog enjoy an off-leash romp outdoors, it’s going to beat sitting in front of the TV or computer. Getting out of the house and exploring is the best way to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas to better your life.

Dogs help you think with your gut

Thinking with your gut requires a lot of confidence. Those who are shy or suffering from low-self esteem will have trouble taking opportunities that present themselves in life. Dogs are go-getters. They live life in the moment. And it tends to rub off pretty well. Owning a dog has given people the courage to make life-changing decisions for the better. People open businesses, make health changes, or take those leap of faith chances in life because their self-esteem is where it needs to be. Dogs help lift our spirits when we need it most. They help keep our minds in check.

Every moment you spend with your dog, is one molecule more of happiness.

What’s your dog got you hooked on lately?