Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Does your dog love you?

If you’re a dog lover, there’s a large chance you’ve had a dog of your own in your lifetime. There is some sort of unconditional love for your furry friend that you can’t quite explain, but you totally know it’s there. Your dog would follow you across the world if it could, and some quite literally have! I remember reading this post from Dr. Chris Brown (yes, I follow him on Facebook, he’s beautiful, don’t fight me on it) about a dog called Pero that had been left with it’s owner’s friends while they went on holiday. For some reason, Pero didn’t think it was good enough for him to be left behind while they lay on the nice warm beaches, so he decided to make a journey of 400km to meet up with them again. How he survived for 3 weeks on the road is a complete mystery, but you’ve got to admire his spirit! If that’s not real love there, then I don’t know what you’d call it.

But how do we really know if our dogs love us back in the same sort of way we love them? With Science of course, silly!


A lovely team of Scientists at Emory University in Atlanta decided they had this same thought and wanted to test it out, so essentially they trained over a dozen dogs to feel comfortable and relaxed (well, as relaxed as dogs can be) around an MRI scanner and measured this.
The dogs had shown to have released the same chemicals in their brain when they look at us that we release when we look at our dogs and feel the heart-warming vibe that we do. These include the following:
Endocannabinoids (the “bliss” molecule), Dopamine (the “reward” molecule), Oxytocin (the “bonding” molecule), and Adrenalin (the “energy” molecule).
Pretty much, they came to the conclusion that yes, dogs do feel love and happiness as we do around them. I mean, to put it in the most ‘Science-y’ way possible, love really is all just chemicals!

Gregory Berns, one of the Scientists at the Emory University study, wrote a book about this specific study, and gave a few tips on how to tell if your dog loves you.

  1. After eating, your dog still wants to cuddle with you.
  2. Your dog enjoys sleeping with you.
  3. Your dog is happy when you come home.
  4. You love your dog (the essential of course!)


I personally know that my dog loves me, when she comes and cuddles me when I’m sick, and so I do her the same when she shivers from the thunderstorms.


My Golden Retriever, Tilly, reached for me to hold her paw when a clap of thunder roared.

So no, you’re not just a food and housing source to these animals; they care about and love you unconditionally.









2 comments on “Does your dog love you?

  1. lestercorncrake
    May 8, 2016

    Very relevant and interesting post! As we know, dogs are one of the most popular pets amongst us humans, so there is no doubt that many people have also wondered whether their love towards their canine companions are mutual. What I found personally very interesting was the first point from Gregory Berns about your dog still wanting to cuddle with you after they have eaten. Sometimes my cat seems to forget my existence once he has been fed! I will like to point out perhaps formatting your post a bit better, such as shorter, more succinct paragraphs and a defined space between each paragraph, just to make it easier for the audience to understand the information easier. Also, in one of your paragraphs you said that the researchers “tested this”, tested what, exactly? Loved the inclusion of your own dog for visuals! Great topic.


  2. nquilty
    May 8, 2016

    Interesting topic and backed up with research and evidence. Just wondering, in regards to the study with the MRI machine that you mention. What were the dogs actually response to that particular test. You say that they released the same chemicals around the machine as they do when they are around there humans. Making me think that they can love machines as well? So, how was the conclusion reached that they love humans?

    Also with the point about not wanting “cuddles” after being fed. I know my dog isn’t a big cuddler to begin with, but he does follow me around after being fed, so does that mean that he still loves even though he doesn’t specifically want a cuddle. Maybe something to add to that point.

    Love the picture of your dog, she is very gorgeous! Great read.


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This entry was posted on April 28, 2016 by in Burwood - Friday 2pm, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .

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