If you’ve ever noticed your dog’s eyes getting a bit moist every time they’re reunited with you, a new study suggests that Dogs cry tears of happiness when their owners return home.
The study was initiated by a group of scientists at Azabu University’s Laboratory of Human-Animal Interaction and Reciprocity after professor Takefumi Kikusui discovered that one of his poodles became upset while nursing her new babies.
It made Kikusui wonder if dogs sense emotions in the same way that people do. Kikusui and his colleagues measured the number of tears in 18 Dogs by inserting a paper strip into each Dog’s eyelids for a minute before and after they were reunited with their person.
The amount of moisture collected on the paper strip rose in the moments following the Dogs’ reunion with their owners, leading the researchers to conclude that being reunited with their human boosted tear secretion.
“We discovered that dogs shed tears connected with positive feelings,” adds Kikusui. We also discovered oxytocin as a potential mechanism underpinning it.”
Kikusui also tried separating the dogs from their owners and reuniting them with another known caretaker to ensure the results were accurate but found that there was “no increase in tears when the dogs were separated from the owner and reunited with the dogs’ caretaker in a dog care center,” implying that the emotional response was specific to their owner.
So, the next time you arrive home and your canine buddy meets you joyfully at the door, give them an extra big embrace because it turns out they miss you more than you realize.