Our four-legged pals are an incredible source of emotional support throughout the hardest of times. What you need to do is simply hug them or observe their friendly face until the despair disappears in their big innocent eyes.
However, it turns out that your dog might get caught up in your emotional whole as well. Imagine that!
A new study by a group of researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Wien has found that dogs might get into the bad mood of humans or their dog fellows.
Emotional contagion is a fundamental component of empathy. This is typical for various species but particularly notable for dogs, as scientists conclude.
Researchers conducted a test with 53 adult dogs from different breeds and their owners. The experiment took place in two rooms with speakers, hidden in wooden boxes. Two types of stimulating sounds were played in both the rooms – positive in the first and negative in the other.
For a positive human sound they used laughter, for a negative – crying. For simulating dog noises sounds of playful barking and isolation howling were played to the different groups. From time to time the vets played neutral sounds such as chatter, rain or leaf murmur.
The discovery after comparing the results was no surprise. Dogs do react to negative human sounds in a way very similar to how they react to dogs’ negative sounds. This is to prove that emotional contagion is a real thing.
So next time you are crying, observe how your dog doesn’t care if you make them go away. They won’t leave you alone until they make you smile (in which they are the bestest!). They would force their way into your face, trying to lick your tears, sniffing the sadness away. And that’s one of those moments when you realize having such a friend is worth cleaning every poo, feeling the awful smell of every fart, going out for a walk hungover or in minus 20 degrees. I bet you have even more examples in mind…
Dogs understand us. The question is – do we understand dogs?