An oxytocin nasal spray can strengthen the bond between you and your pet dog, a new study has found.
Researchers studied how 16 pet adult dogs of different breeds behaved after they were exposed to an oxytocin spray.
Oxytocin or 'love hormone' is a naturally occurring hormone released by the pituitary gland.
The scientists recorded any instance of bonding behaviour that the dogs showed with other familiar dogs as well as with their owners.
The behaviours included sniffing, licking, gentle touching with the nose or paw, playing and resting in contact with the other's body.
Researchers found that after receiving the oxytocin spray, dogs displayed more affiliative behaviours and paid more attention to their owners.
The researchers said the spray significantly changed the dogs' heart rate variability and stimulated secretion of oxytocin.
These indicate that the spray "can penetrate into the brain and stimulate the oxytocin system in the central nervous system," study co-author Miho Nagasawa of the University of Tokyo's Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences told 'Discovery News'.
The spray likely won't magically turn enemies into buddies. When taken as a whole, all of the studies suggest that the effects of oxytocin are context-dependent, researchers said.
The hormone appears to strengthen pre-existing friendships and family connections, but it could stimulate the forging of new beneficial relationships, they added.