Study: Dogs Display EmpathyPublished June 15, 2012
My customer Lauren stopped by today and told me a story about how her dog comforted her during a recent crying spell … Lauren’s sweet dog Bosco jumped into bed and licked her tears away!
The empathy between dog and guardian might seem like a very personal bond, but researchers in Britain have discovered that dogs show amazing sensitivity to human emotional states, whether their own guardian or a stranger.
In the study, eighteen pet dogs of varying ages and breeds were exposed to four separate 20-second experimental conditions in which either the dog's owner or an unfamiliar person pretended to cry, have a casual conversation or hum. More dogs approached the crying person than in the other two scenarios, an outcome that probably doesn’t surprise dog lovers. What's amazing is that the identity of the crier didn’t matter – owner or stranger, the dogs looked at, approached or touched the person who seemed in need of comfort.