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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dogs 'share their owners' emotions'

From the London Telegraph (click here)

The bond between dogs and their owners may be deeper than we thought, according to research that suggests the pets may share their owners' emotions.

Dog being carried by it's owner: Dogs 'share their owners' emotions'
The bond between dogs and their owners may be deeper than we thought Photo: ALAMY

When the animals are confronted with a human displaying strong feelings, they themselves produce a similar emotional response, the researchers found.
The discovery could cast light on how dogs' pack behaviour has been translated into the modern world.
Biomedical scientist Dr Karine Silva, of the University of Porto, says that dogs even possess certain human-like social skills that chimpanzees, our closest relatives, do not.
Writing in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, she says the animals' response goes beyond simply mimicing their owners' - a reaction known as "emotional contagion".
Dr Silva said: "A study showing that pets, namely dogs, behave as 'upset' as children when exposed to familiar people faking distress, strongly suggests 'sympathetic concern'.
"Also, it has been reported that untrained dogs may be sensitive to human emergencies and may act appropriately to summon help, which, if true, suggests empathic perspective taking."
The researchers believe there are three main reasons for dogs empathising with human.

Modern pets originated from wolves which are highly social animals that engage in co-operative activities and have developed empathy towards other animal species.
Furthermore, biological chances as dogs were domesticated mean their empathy towards man has been fine-tuned over generations.
And breed diversification and selection for increasingly difficult working tasks, such as herding animals or hunting, have led to more complex understanding of human emotional communication.
The researchers said despite limited research they consider dogs' capacity for emotional contagion and perhaps for some mental processing of humans' emotional states is supported by both anecdotal and experimental data.
One study published 18 months ago found pet dogs tend to yawn when they see people doing the same while another reported five years ago showed pet pooches' stress hormones rose or fell in direct relation to their owner's.
Dr Silva and colleagues said: "Curiously, contagious yawning has been connected to higher levels of empathy in humans, with studies suggesting that it probably shares a developmental basis with self-awareness and perspective taking."
They said research on the empathic abilities of dogs is of special importance for decisions about our obligations towards them.
The researchers went on: "Clearly, there is a need for additional investigations to analyse the emotional and cognitive components that may be involved in dogs' seemingly empathic behaviour towards humans."
They added: "Dogs have been increasingly involved with human activities and further studies are crucial if specific needs are to be met.
"For instance, it would be important to conduct rigorous tests on therapeutic dogs that seem to 'take on' the emotions of patients, needing massages and calming measures after the sessions."


Vaso said...

dogs are very smart and I do believe they do sence things like if your upset or happy. when your upset a dog will come and lay with you and comfort you . When your happy the dog wasnts to play . this is why people sometimes love there animals more then people , because a god is going to love you regardless of what emotions your feeling that day

Karen Mata said...

Dog are like humans they have feelings. Well at lest my baby does. I treat my dog as if she were my child. I believe that she feels what I fell and she is very sensitive. She probably is way smarter than a chimp.

Glubis Valdivieso said...

this remains me of the dog that laid down to his owners coffin we he found that he died. Man that was such a sad thing to look at.

Anonymous said...

Madison Harper com 101 4044
i agree with this i think pets can sense our emotions and can relate with them.

Anonymous said...

Pets can definitely can sense emotions! I know If I'm even the tiniest bit sad my dog will not leave me alone. It's an interesting topic because many say that cats and dogs can also detect when a women is pregnant which I have heard from many people to be true. Animals are so smart!

Anonymous said...

I agree that dogs and cats can detect if women are pregnant. I had a cousin who had a cat that was seriously attached to her and as soon as she got pregnant( before she even knew) the cat started acting really weird and didn't stop until she had the baby. My dog totally acts upon my emotions without me even saying anything. He can tell when I'm mad or happy just by the way he greets me. I think they can just sense emotions differently because thats how they have to communicate.

Chelsee Henderson Com 101 4049

Anonymous said...

That's crazy! I always thought they felt our emotions. Just never knew it was true. The closer you are to your dog the closer your dog feels for you. That's why a dog is a mans best friend!

Andrew Govea Com 101-4049

Anonymous said...

I do believe that dogs can feel our emotions. I think that people will always say that their pets can figure out their current emotional status but I think people dont realize that most animals can do the same things.

Devin Murtaugh

Katrin Clyde said...

Cesar Milan says that to train a dog you have to make sure to train yourself to control your emotions so the way you feel doesn't get in the way of what your trying to teach your dog. I've also noticed that when I purposely make crying noises around my sisters dog it drives her crazy and she cries as well so I totally agree that sometimes dogs do share our emotions.

Anonymous said...

my dog knows when im upset or when im happy. they can sense these things. i heard they can hear our hearbeats and even smell different hormones we release.

i love my dog!