Sometimes dogs seem to be sent from heaven to be our friends, but is their empathy with us all in OUR minds?
Dogs and man have evolved together for the past 15,000 years. Researcher Deborah Custance wanted find out how much they can really read our emotions, so she studied the response of nearby dogs when someone near them began to cry or hum. When dogs sense human distress, we know that they often do things like whine, nuzzle or lick the person, fetch toys for them or lay their heads in their laps. But these actions don’t necessarily indicate empathy–they could merely indicate confusion or curiosity on the dog’s part.
While "human oriented behavior" did sometimes take place among dogs when a person hummed, it was twice as likely to happen when they cried, indicating that the dogs WERE differentiating odd behavior and sadness.
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