Dogs Will Rush To Comfort Crying Owners, Study Shows

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
The scientists behind the study wanted to see if dogs can sense our feelings and would crying motivate them to try and help their owners.

If you’re a dog owner, you know how they have an innate ability to make any crappy day better. It’s like they know when you had a particularly stressful day at work or got some bad news- as if on command, they get their furry butts right next to you, snuggling the stress away.

Our four-legged little angels are known to particularly shine when the blues hit you hard, always being there to put their head in your lap and lick away the tears. But why’s that the case? Can dogs sense and differentiate between our feelings, and could it be that some of them could motivate them to act? Authors of a recent study, published in the Learning & Behavior, seem to think so.

The study led by a team of scientists from Johns Hopkins University evaluated the reactions and the behavior of 34 dogs of different breeds and age groups. The furry participants were both pets and therapy dogs, and each of them was paired with their owner. Their humans sat in a chair behind a clear door, which was magnetized shut, so the pooches couldn’t get to them- at least, not without some effort.

In one group, the owners were saying ‘help’ in a crying voice every 15 seconds, while others shifted between saying ‘help’ in a calm voice, and humming “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, also in 15 second intervals. To no one’s surprise, the participating pooches wanted to get to their owners regardless of what they were saying or humming, but it’s not their drive to be by their pawrent’s side that got the researchers excited.

Once they checked the time in which dogs reacted, they’ve realized that the dogs whose owner was “crying” responded in circa 20 seconds, whereas the control time for the calm voice was about a minute and a half. The results of the test led researchers to believe that dogs recognize when people are in distress and that it motivates them to try and help- and as soon as possible.

Once again, science backs what we already know: dog is definitely man’s best friend, in every way that counts.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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