Can Dogs Feel Our Emotions? Yawn Study Suggests Yes

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Dog owners who claim their pets know their feelings may be on to something: A new study shows that canines yawn more in response to their owners' yawns than they do to strangers' yawns.


That suggests dogs are "emotionally connected" to people, study leader Teresa Romero of the University of Tokyo said in a statement.

Scientists already knew that dogs sometimes yawn when they see people yawn, but it was unclear if that was considered a form of empathy or mild stress, as yawning can be caused by anxiety.

So Romero and her team set up an experiment in which 25 pet dogs watched both their owners and strangers yawn or pretend to yawn. (Read about why people yawn.)

The team ruled out stress when researchers saw no significant differences in the dogs' heartbeats during the experiments, according to the study, published August 7 in the journal PloS ONE.

Not only did the dogs in the study yawn more in response to their owners' yawns, they also yawned less when they saw fake yawns from their owners or from strangers, suggesting they were exhibiting true contagious yawning.

Written By: Christine Dell’Amore
continue to source article at news.nationalgeographic.com

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  1. I’m all for scientific research generally but what a waste of time and money. As Stafford Gordon suggests any dog owner since dogs were domesticated can tell you that dogs – and indeed, some cats – react strongly to their owners moods and health condition. Get real!

    • In reply to #2 by stuhillman:

      I’m all for scientific research generally but what a waste of time and money. As Stafford Gordon suggests any dog owner since dogs were domesticated can tell you that dogs – and indeed, some cats – react strongly to their owners moods and health condition. Get real!

      Knowing something anecdotally and having scientific evidence are two different things. In fact its not out of the question that dog owners could “know something” (be very certain something is true) and actually turn out to be completely wrong because some of us are as biased about our dogs as we are about our other loved ones.

    • In reply to #2 by stuhillman:

      I’m all for scientific research generally but what a waste of time and money. As Stafford Gordon suggests any dog owner since dogs were domesticated can tell you that dogs – and indeed, some cats – react strongly to their owners moods and health condition. Get real!

      I’ve lived with cats all of my life and the only time they communicate is when they want something, a warm lap or food. They just don’t care.

      • In reply to #7 by zombiewoof:

        I’ve lived with cats all of my life and the only time they communicate is when they want something, a warm lap or food. They just don’t care.

        The same could be said of dogs.

    • In reply to #5 by aquilacane:

      Do dogs see themselves as other humans or humans as other dogs?

      I read a science-based opinion not long ago that suggested canine evolution has succeeded in making humans think we know what dogs are thinking. In other words, we have no clue what they really are thinking. It’s a type of self delusion that “works” for my well-being which sounds a little religious-like, doesn’t it?

      Well, this is if the study was on to something that is.

      Mike

  2. Dogs are pack animals, and dog training involves teaching the dog that the owner is the pack leader, with the dog lower in the pecking order. Owners/handlers, have different levels of skills in establishing this, but trained dogs follow directions and identify with owners.

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