It’s official (again) – dogs yawn more often in response to their owners than to other people.
Last year, researchers in Sweden published research on contagious yawning in dogs. This year, researchers at the University of Tokyo have published additional research in the open journal PLoS One.
Their research focuses on a ‘familiarity bias’ in contagious yawning by dogs.
Pet dogs in the study watched their owner or a stranger yawn. They responded more in response to their owners than to the strangers.
The researchers conclude that the dogs have an emotional connection to their owners, which is exhibited through empathy with the yawning movements.
Ever been at a party or in a meeting and someone yawns – and then others (including you) do the same? Have you noticed your dog yawning when you do?
Research from Lund University in Sweden published in the journal Animal Cognition proves that dogs catch yawns from humans. But, only dogs above the age of seven months appear to be susceptible.
The syndrome of contagious yawning is an indicator of empathy, mimicking the emotional responses of others. You can’t really measure empathy directly.
This study involved 35 dogs in Denmark between the ages of four and 14 months. Given that contagious yawning may be an empathetic response, the results suggest that empathy develops slowly over the first year of a dog’s life.
The researchers tested the dogs with both an unfamiliar experimenter and their owner and found no evidence that the puppies yawned more in response to their owners.
Source: Springer publishing