It might be a good move to let your cranky employees bring theirdogs to work.

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Research suggests that Fido’s mere presence stimulates therelease of an internal chemical that perks folks right up. That is,as long as the dog gazes longingly and often into its owner’seyes.

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That’s what The Washington Post reports after it reviewed research done by Japanese scientists.This wasn’t one of those “studies” where people were asked abouttheir feelings. These researchers actually analyzed the amount ofoxytocin the in the urine of dog owners, and found that those whogazed at their dogs for a set time produced more than did those whoweren’t allowed to doggie-gaze for as long.

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The groups were divided into LG and SG — long gazers and shortgazers, respectively. The scientists measured the oxytocin levelsin the urine of the two groups 30 minutes after the gazing periodended. Here’s what they found:

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“In the interaction experiment, a high correlation was found inLG between the frequency of behavioral exchanges initiated by thedog’s gaze and the increase in urinary OT. We conclude thatinteractions with dogs, especially those initiated by the dog’sgaze, can increase the urinary OT concentrations of their owners asa manifestation of attachment behavior.”

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In other words, it’s the dog’s response to the human’s desirefor eye contact that makes the good chemicals flow, and not justthe proximity of animal to human.

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At work, that could make all the difference in an employee’semotional well-being. Miho Nagasawa, oneof the study’s authors, told the Post the release of oxytocintriggered by dog-gazing reduces anxiety and arousal levels inhumans and dogs. “The positive interaction between humans and dogs via mutualgazing may reduce stress activity for each other,” she says.

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Now, what the research team needs to do is rerun the test withcats, just to placate all those feline lovers out there.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.