Since humans first tamed wild dogs, they developed close bonds with these new best friends. Experts from new studies say this is a primary reason why dogs seem to empathize with people more than any other species, including other humans.
Since humans first tamed wild dogs, they’ve helped us with everything from hunting to leading the blind. At the same time, we developed close bonds with these new best friends. . Experts say this is a primary reason why dogs seem to empathize with people more than any other species, including other humans.
Researchers studied 18 pet dogs of various ages and breeds in four different 20-second sessions with either their owners or strangers. Each session involved the person doing something different like humming or crying. Most dogs showed concern and attempts to comfort, whether or not the person was a stranger.
Not only that, but dogs are the only animal to share another species’ “contagious” behavior such as yawning. Another recent study tracked the responses of 29 dogs to audio clips of people yawning. Of the 41 percent that yawned, dogs yawned five times more when hearing their owners.
But some caution appearances can be deceiving, and it’s unknown to what extent a dog can match a human’s capacity for empathy. According to ethologist Ádám Miklósi, “Dogs can simulate very well different forms of social interest that could mislead people to think they are controlled by the same mental processes.”