/ Modified oct 2, 2017 8:54 p.m.

One Hormone May Be The Answer To Your Dog's 'Leash Aggression'

A study found a relationship between higher levels of the hormone vasopressin and canine aggression.

Grass dog Botanical Gardens Enjoying the grass at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
Bryn Bailer

Why do some dogs show more “leash aggression,” barking and lunging at other canines when out for a walk? New research points to vasopressin and oxytocin — two hormones also found in humans.

A University of Arizona professor tested hormone levels of dogs before and after being shown a life-like dog model. Those who acted aggressively had higher levels of vasopressin, while the least aggressive dogs had high levels of oxytocin.

“Social behavior is very complex. There's no single hormone that is going to regulate everything, but really it’s a lot of different processes that all play some small role, and the idea is that oxytocin would probably help in keeping dogs calm and sociable in friendly ways,” said Evan MacLean, the director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology.

MacLean said it is still unknown whether certain breeds naturally have higher levels of vasopressin or oxytocin, but the results of the study could help determine that.

This story originally aired on KJZZ.

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