Study Reveals Dogs Have Empathy for Their Human Companions

According to a new study out of Japan, dogs have empathy for their human companions and can feel it with us when we’re tired. The study shows that when your dog witnesses you yawning, it will feel shared in the pain of your exhaustion and will often respond by yawning simultaneously with you. For people who say that dogs don’t get it, well, this study begs to differ.

The study included 25 dogs of various breeds, and in their findings, research showed that dogs were more likely to copy the yawns of their owners versus strangers. It’s a unique attachment and bond that we form with our four-legged family members, and this evidence further proves just how close humans really are with their dogs.

Dog's Have Emapthy For Human CompanionsIn fact, the majority of dogs in the study didn’t respond to fake yawns at all, which suggests that they can detect the difference between when their owners were genuinely tired and when they were just faking it. No more bold-faced lies about being too tired for a walk, it seems!

Teresa Romero, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Tokyo who conducted the study, said: “Our results show that the emotional bond between people and their dogs is reciprocal. This attachment can shape the dog’s responses in a way similar to humans, that is, to be more sensitive to a familiar yawn than to a stranger.”

Canine subjects who participated in the study had their heart rates monitored as researchers observed the dogs to see if the canines’ responses were coming from a place of empathy or distress. What they found was that both the human and canine heart rates all remained stable throughout the study. So the next time you’re feeling exhausted and you’re in the company of your pooch, be sure to observe your dog when you yawn and see if they’re mimicking your every move.

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