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18 hours ago

KSCO Pet Radio

#kscoMaybe Lassie wasn’t so special after all?

Researchers looking into emotional contagion in dogs set up an experiment to test how quickly a dog would open a box under different circumstances. They timed how long it took the dogs to open boxes containing their owner sounding distressed, some high-value treats, and their owner calmly reading aloud.

“Dogs were as likely to release their distressed owner as to retrieve treats from inside the box, indicating that rescuing an owner may be a highly rewarding action for dogs. After accounting for opening ability, dogs released the owner more often when the owner called for help than when the owner read aloud calmly. Dogs displayed more stress behaviors in the distress test than in the reading test, and stress scores decreased with test number in the reading test but not in the distress test. This evidence of emotional contagion supports the hypothesis that rescuing the distressed owner was an empathetically-motivated prosocial behavior.”

Full study (open access!) at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/…
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