By Martin Leduc
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Dog owners know it: coming home from work, shopping, or any outing means a house party.
The dog jumps everywhere, its tail moves in all directions, it turns on itself, barks… When they are small, it even happens that the puppies urinate with excitement.
Imagine that in addition to all these visible manifestations, dogs could also shed a few tears of joy when they find us.
In any case, this is confirmed by a very serious study carried out by Kaori Murata, Miho Nagasawa, Tatsushi Onaka, Nobuyuki Kanemaki, Shigeru Nakamura, Kazuo Tsubota, Kazutaka Mogi and Takefumi Kikusui, researchers from the University of Azabu, in Japan.
To prove it, the scientists carried out the Schirmer’s test. Basically, they just put strips of blotting paper under the dogs eyes.
That done, they observed the dog’s reactions – and the results on the strip – with people they know, but with no particular connection, and with their master.
“Tear volume increases significantly when dogs face their handlers,” the researchers say in the study report.
Facilitate emotional connections
But how to explain that dogs cry with joy? It may sound bizarre, but scientists have a ready-made hypothesis to answer the question: “These results suggest that tears can facilitate emotional connections between humans and dogs.
And to prove it, the researchers conducted two additional experiments.
In another test, they applied a solution containing oxytocin (basically the love hormone) before the meeting. And the volume of tears has greatly increased, according to the results of the study.
“This suggests that oxytocin could be the cause of these tears during meetings,” the researchers say.
The second experiment was directed towards the owners. The researchers asked human participants to rate their impressions of photos of dogs. Whether or not they wanted to take care of them. On some, dogs with tears and others without (artificial tears, for the sake of the experiment).
“And subjects gave much higher marks to photos of dogs with tears. This suggests that tears can facilitate emotional connections between man and dog”, are satisfied with the researchers.
A bit like when a child cries and his mother or father comes running to give him some attention.
These positive emotions stimulate the production of tears
According to them, this is the “first report of positive emotions stimulating the secretion of tears in non-human subjects”.
According to the study, this is surely linked to the fact that dogs, unlike most other animals, evolved or were domesticated through communication with humans, and therefore have gained capacity in this direction.
Even if other animals show excitement when they find humans with whom they have a positive past, there is therefore no risk of seeing them shed tears during the reunion.
Well, who knows? The animals probably still have a few surprises in store for us.
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