The following is an (edited) excerpt from a recent 60 Minutes report, “How Dogs Express Their Emotions.”

If you have ever watched YouTube videos of dogs welcoming home returning service members, it’s easy to see the bond between dogs and their owners. But have you ever wondered if dogs love us the way we love them?

Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University, says there’s proof of that bond. It’s found in our bloodstreams: “We know that when dogs and humans make eye contact, that actually releases what’s known as the love hormone, oxytocin, in both the dog and the human. It turns out oxytocin, the same hormone that helps new mothers bond with their babies, is released in both dogs and humans when they play, touch, or look into one another’s eyes. What we know now is that when dogs are actually looking at you, they’re essentially hugging you with their eyes.”

And when dogs are making a lot of eye contact with you, it’s not that they’re just trying to get something from you. It probably is just really enjoyable for them because they get oxytocin or an uptick in the “love hormone.”

All these new discoveries about dogs have led Brian Hare to create a science-based website called Dognition, where owners can learn to play games to test their dog’s brain power.

So the next time your dog fixes you with those big, trusting eyes, he’s really thinking of you, not just his next can of Alpo.

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