Goldsmiths University boffins show dog empathy with humans in distress

A shoulder to cry on?

A shoulder to cry on?

First published in News News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

DOGS feel your pain and want you to know they are there for you.

That's the message from boffins at Goldsmiths University who have published research showing domestic dogs show empathy when confronted with human distress.

Dr Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer exposed 18 dogs to four separate 20-second experiments in which either the pet's owner or a stranger pretended to cry, hummed in an odd manner, or carried out a casual conversation.

Results showed significantly more dogs looked at, approached and touched the humans as they were crying as opposed to humming, and no dogs responded during talking.

Ms Mayer said: "The dogs approached whoever was crying regardless of their identity.

"Thus they were responding to the person’s emotion, not their own needs, which is suggestive of empathic-like comfort-offering behaviour."

For more on the study, visit eprints.gold.ac.uk/7074/

Comments (4)

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3:47pm Thu 7 Jun 12

emelem says...

cats do it, too, believe it or not :)
cats do it, too, believe it or not :) emelem
  • Score: 0

4:20am Fri 8 Jun 12

LiteracyTeacher says...

Dogs know. This study demonstrates what dog "owners" have known all along- that dogs are naturally sensitive to others' needs and freely put their own needs aside.
Dogs know. This study demonstrates what dog "owners" have known all along- that dogs are naturally sensitive to others' needs and freely put their own needs aside. LiteracyTeacher
  • Score: 0

3:39pm Sat 9 Jun 12

claireclc says...

That's how I got both my dogs to stop nipping me as puppies. I burst out 'crying' when they did it. The poor little things were shocked but it worked!
That's how I got both my dogs to stop nipping me as puppies. I burst out 'crying' when they did it. The poor little things were shocked but it worked! claireclc
  • Score: 0

4:43pm Thu 14 Jun 12

emelem says...

i used to fake sleep & "snore" when i had a dalmatian that just wanted to play, play, play when i wanted to sleep! :) within 2 minutes, he calmed down, thinking i was asleep and no more fun until morning, lol :)
i used to fake sleep & "snore" when i had a dalmatian that just wanted to play, play, play when i wanted to sleep! :) within 2 minutes, he calmed down, thinking i was asleep and no more fun until morning, lol :) emelem
  • Score: 0

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