Domestication and co-evolution have resulted in a very special dog-human bond. Unlike their wolf ancestor, dogs have shown to turn to humans for help when faced with a problem. Although more social to humans than wolves, dogs do show individual and breed-dependent variation in human-contact seeking behaviours. In this study, I investigated the effects of: genotypic variation in an oxytocin receptor gene, and sex on human-contact seeking behaviours in 61 golden retrievers. A problem-solving test, designed to observe if dogs turn to humans for help in face of a challenge was used to examine human-directed contact seeking behaviours. Furthermore, oxytocin was administered to investigate its effects on human-directed contact seeking behaviours and to determine if it has the same effect on different genotypes. Sex, the administration of an oxytocin spray and genotypic variation, independent of oxytocin administration, impacted human-directed contact seeking behaviour. Moreover, different genotypes reacted differently to the administration of oxytocin, something future studies may wish to consider when examining the effects of oxytocin administration on social behaviour.
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Last updated: 07/27/16