If you love sharing a sweet smile with your pup, you may be actually increasing both your bond and your pet's love for you. According to a new study, dogs actually prefer smiling faces over dangerous or threatening ones.
Though the study's conclusion may seem pretty logical on the surface, it's actually a major finding for the animal kingdom. It basically means that your fur baby has a stronger emotional response to your smiling face than a pending threat.
When you smile at your dog and give her affection, the hormone oxytocin is released. This is the same "love" or "cuddle hormone" humans release when bonding with another creature through touch and tenderness.
This hormone is also released in animals, too. When researchers introduced oxytocin to dogs in the study and recorded their eye movements and pupil dilation — a telltale sign of emotional interest — they found the canine companions had significantly more emotional responses to the smiling faces of humans than threats.
In fact, dogs influenced by oxytocin even found angry faces less threatening. So this love hormone literally changed how these dogs see the world. Because, hey, when you're in love, everything around you becomes more beautiful.
The big takeaway is that the more you bond with cuddles and smiles, the more oxytocin you introduce into your dog's body. And more oxytocin means more love, which means more cuddles and smiles! So it's all one big pawsitively beautiful circle of love and affection.