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Behavior

Why Humans Are Drawn to Puppies

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There are very few things in this world as cute as an 8 week old puppy.  Even people who don’t care for dogs or fear them tend to gush over puppies. I’ve witnessed the toughest of guys and the most squeamish of girls melt at the sight of a puppy taking a nap or rolling around on the floor. The word most often associated with puppies is the word “cute” and it’s obvious why. The large eyes and soft mouths are hard to resist and I myself can’t help but blow raspberries on their bare bellies.

Experiencing Puppy Love

What exactly is it about a puppy that makes us feel an extremely strong need to nurture them? Why do we adopt puppies when we know that they are going to chew up our shoes and piddle on our carpets? If you have ever trained a puppy, you know that it is hard work and puppies require a lot of attention. All the same, we put up with their antics and cater to their needs.

What’s even weirder is our fascination with puppy breath! We all know that dog breath is disgusting, but for whatever reason, we can’t help but take a sniff when a puppy yawns. Supposedly it is the mother’s milk that makes their breath smell so sweet, but I think we can all agree that it’s a little weird.

It’s all in the Wiring

The most common response to why we are so drawn to puppies is that humans are hardwired to nurture small creatures. I suppose this makes sense because our own young require so much attention and care—at least more than most other species.

Ever notice how you interact with a puppy in much the same way you interact with a human child? The reason for this is that our brains respond similarly when presented with each. We experience an increase in the hormone Oxytocin, which is often referred to as the “love hormone.”  We then proceed to interact with the young creature through lots of smiles and baby talk.  It can actually be pretty entertaining watching grown men going gaga over a fuzzy little puppy (I admit to have done so countless times). Puppy whimpering even sounds a lot like some of the noises that human babies make.

[bt_taglinebox style=”top” width=”500″ font_size=”14″ text_color=”#5b5b5b” title=”Oxytocin” title_color=”#259b9a” align_center=”no” bgr_color=”#f6f6f6″]Oxytocin is a neurohypophysial hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus by nerve axons, and stored in the pituitary gland. Oxytocin acts primarily as a neuromodulator in the brain.[/bt_taglinebox]

Humans actually seem to love puppies so much that we have historically bred a lot of dogs to retain puppy characteristics throughout their lives. This is known as paedomorphism. While it may sound like a big important word, all it means is that certain adult animals still hold on to their juvenile characteristics. We simply can’t get enough of them!

If you do find yourself falling into puppy love with a fuzzy little creature despite yourself, it’s okay to adopt one and blow raspberries to your heart’s content. The more you nurture your puppy while he’s young, the stronger of a bond you will have with him as he grows into an adult dog.


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