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Your Dog Knows When You Are Sad

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Have you ever felt like your dog was more than just a furry bystander during a time of crisis? He or she might have lent a literal shoulder to cry on -- but underneath that cuddly facade, your pup really was feeling your pain. 
 
A new study found that dogs show empathy to humans who are crying. Researchers noted that the emotional bond isn't limited to a dog and it's owner; canines respond to any person who is shedding tears -- even a stranger.
 
18 dogs -- representing a variety of ages and breeds -- were exposed to "four separate 20-second experimental conditions in which either the dog's owner or an unfamiliar person pretended to cry, hummed in an odd manner, or carried out a casual conversation." Dr. Deborah Custance found that more dogs looked at, approached and touched the humans as they were crying as opposed to humming -- and no dogs responded to those talking.
 
Custance's co-author Jennifer Mayer explained, "If the dogs' approaches during the crying condition were motivated by self-oriented comfort-seeking, they would be more likely to approach their usual source of comfort, their owner, rather than the stranger. No such preference was found. The dogs approached whoever was crying regardless of their identity. Thus they were responding to the person's emotion, not their own needs, which is suggestive of empathic-like comfort-offering behavior."
 
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