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."

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