Study shows dogs move quicker to help owners when they cry

Study shows dogs move quicker to help owners when they cry”

Sanford and her team also tried the experiment with therapy dogs and were surprised to find they did not act more quickly than other animals.

Now a new study has found that not only do dogs offer help and comfort to their owners, but they will even hurry to reach them.

The dogs were able to see and hear their owners behind the doors as they were instructed to either hum Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or start crying.

Dogs with a strong bond, who spend more time looking at their owner, are more likely to run to their side if they appear to be distressed. The dogs could see and hear them. A paper published Tuesday in the journal Learning & Behavior, however, suggests that "dogs will actually take an action trying to alleviate that distress", says Julia Meyers-Manor, an assistant professor of psychology at Ripon College in Wisconsin and a co-author of the study. Dog owners might say it's time spent with humankind's furry best friends. Roughly half of the dogs opened the doors for their owners - and although there was no difference between the dogs who opened their doors for the calm owners versus the distressed owners, the time it took for them to open the doors varied greatly. The owners were asked to either hum a tune or cry.

"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 to help them", said lead author Emily Sanford, a graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

"There are some people who just don't have as strong empathy toward other people", Sanford says.

While playing with her children, Meyers-Manor was buried in pillows by her kids and began calling for help as if in distress. In the crying condition, we found the dogs that opened the door showed fewer signs of stress - and were reported by their owners to be less anxious - than dogs that did not open it.

Dogs will come to their owner's aid regardless of the circumstances.

Nearly half pushed open the magnetised door to reach the person if the owner pretended to be upset, doing so in an average of 23 seconds.

Scientists call it the "Lassie effect", and a new study suggests many pooches really could be real-life heroes, or at least give it their best shot.

The study's title, "Timmy's in the well: Empathy and prosocial helping in dogs", refers to an American cultural icon: Lassie, the canine superhero of 1950s TV, known for rushing to retrieve help for her person Timmy, a boy who had fallen down a well.

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