It's Love at First Sniff

  • Jessica Oliva

Press/Media: Article/Feature


Puppy love is to het a hormone help-along, with trials of nasal spray to make shelter mutts instantly warm and fuzzy about us.

Monash University researchers aim to see if a spray of oxytocin, the so-called cuddle hormone, can boost the odds of a dog bonding with its new owner.

And, if the science stacks up, a quick spray could send pound hounds and their much-loved new owners home on a high.

Monash University's Animal Welfare Science Centre PhD researcher, Jessica Oliva, will start her trial next month on 80 Colstream Animal Aid Shelter dogs. Jessica says the hormone works for a short time, but that might enough to kick-start a lifelong love-in.

"When an owner decides to adopt a dog, you could give it a single dose of oxytocin to enhance that bond formation on that first day," she says.

"If dogs that recieve oxytocin in the trial are bonding more, want to be closer to you and are gazing at your more - all indicative signs of bonding - then we would say oxyoticn is definitely implicated in that bonding process."

Oxytocin in natually produced in dogs and humans. It is the key hormone in mother-baby bonding and human pairing.

"A lot of dogs that are adopted from shelters are subsequently reliquished back to the shelter and ultimately the results is that are put down," Jessica says. 

"If we can improve that bond formtion, initially, hopefully we will see less of that."

Blood and saliva tests to monitor stress levels and collect genetic information and planned, if a $25,000 shortfall can be met through private support. 

Period9 Sep 2012

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleIt's love at First Sniff
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletHerald Sun Newspaper
    Media typePrint
    Producer/AuthorTerry Brown
    PersonsJessica Oliva