New York, July 24 (IANS) What if your hubby won’t come to wipe your tears as you go through tough times. Believe in your pet dog as the canine will come rushing to you if it hears you crying behind the doors.
According to an interesting study, dogs with strong bonds to their owners hurried to push through a door when they heard their owners crying.
“We found dogs not only sense what their owners are feeling, if a dog knows a way to help them, they’ll go through barriers to provide help to them,” said lead author Emily Sanford from Johns Hopkins University who did the research as an undergraduate at Macalester College.
Prior studies have found dogs to be highly responsive to human crying but Sanford’s team is the first to show that dogs who detect emotional distress will hurry to do something about it.
The experiment, detailed in a paper published in the journal Learning & Behavior, involved 34 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes and their owners.
Subjects included classic companion dogs like golden retrievers and Labradors, small dogs like shih tzus and pugs and several mixed breeds.
One at a time, owners were positioned behind a clear door held shut with magnets.
The dogs could see and hear them. While sitting behind the door, the people were asked to either hum “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or cry.
Dogs who did open the door when they heard their owner crying opened it three times faster than dogs whose owners were humming.
During the task, the researchers measured the dogs’ stress levels.
Sanford said dogs who were able to push through the door to “rescue” their owners showed less stress, meaning they were upset by the crying, but not too upset to take action.
As for the dogs who didn’t push open the door, it wasn’t because they didn’t care — it seemed they cared too much. Those dogs showed the most stress and were too troubled by the crying to do anything, Sanford said.
“Dogs have been by the side of humans for tens of thousands of years and they’ve learned to read our social cues. Dog owners can tell that their dogs sense their feelings,” the researchers noted.