Thielke, LE & Udell, MAR (2015) The role of oxytocin in relationships between dogs and humans and potential applications for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs. Biological Reviews. DOI: 10.1111/brv.12235
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The hormone oxytocin plays an important role in attachment formation and bonding between humans and domestic dogs. Recent research has led to increased interest in potential applications for intranasal oxytocin to aid with the treatment of psychological disorders in humans. While a few studies have explored the effects of intranasally administered oxytocin on social cognition and social bonding in dogs, alternative applications have not yet been explored for the treatment of behavioural problems in this species. One potentially important application for intranasal oxytocin in dogs could be the treatment of separation anxiety, a common attachment disorder in dogs. Here we provide an overview of what is known about the role of oxytocin in the human–dog bond and canine separation anxiety, and discuss considerations for future research looking to integrate oxytocin into behavioural treatment based on recent findings from both the human and dog literature.