Study Shows That Dogs Rush to Help Their Owners When They Cry
A new study has proven what dog lovers have known all along: not only do pups know when their humans are in distress, they will also rush to help them.
The research, published in the journal Learning & Behavior, found that dogs moved faster to open a door to reach their owners when they made crying noises and repeated "help" in a distressed tone compared to those owners who casually hummed "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and repeated "help" in a calm tone.
Though the number of dogs in both groups who opened the door was quite similar—nine in the humming group and seven in the crying group—researchers were able to record a significant difference in the speed in which they did.
On average, the dogs whose owners sounded distressed opened the door within 23.43 seconds, while the dogs whose owners hummed took an average of 95.89 seconds to open the door.
Basically, every dog has a secret Lassie inside them.
"It's really cool for us to know that dogs are so sensitive to human emotional states," Emily Sanford, a graduate student in psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University, and a co-author of the study, told CNN.
The study, though relatively small, could prove essential in better evaluating what influences canines, and service dogs in particular, to assist their humans in emergency situations.
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"It is interesting to think that all these anecdotes of dogs rescuing humans, they could be grounded in truth, and this study is a step toward understanding how those kinds of mechanisms work," Sanford added.
Aaron McDonald, a canine behaviorist based in Birmingham, Alabama, told CNN that he's seen a number of cases of what appear to be dogs exhibiting empathy with humans. McDonald, who was not involved in the study, believes these kinds of responses are a product of the close attention dogs pay their owners.
"They record every rhythm and interval of their behavior, the order in which they move from room to room, how long it takes them to dry their hair in the morning and the sound and rhythm of their footsteps," he explained to CNN.
"They also record all of our facial affectations, our speech patterns, and memorize all of our cognitive blind spots—when and where we don't pay attention," McDonald continued. "Dogs profile humans much like an FBI investigator might document the lifestyle of a suspect. Dogs record and memorize every nuance of their human caregivers' lifestyle."
Seriously y'all, where would be without our dogs?