If you're a pet owner, or if you're a dog owner, you may think that you and your furry friend are of one mind. You know when your dog is happy by simply checking if their tail is wagging. You know they're nervous when they're walking in circles and maybe even biting their tails. And you know when they're hungry when they're begging and whimpering for food.
The question at hand for today is whether or not your dog knows how you're feeling. Does a dog know when you're upset or when you're in distress or when you're sad? Do they sense this through what they see or maybe from what they smell. For your information, a dog's sense of smell is one thousand times stronger than ours. Is there a possible way they can smell how we are feeling?
While we can't answer the question about smell, a recent experiment reveals that dogs can sense their owner's emotions, especially sadness. A study conducted by Julia Meyers-Manor from Ripon University in Wisconsin not just proved that dogs can sense emotion but they also have the initiative to do something about it.
The experiment took place in two rooms separated by a see-through door where the dog can see as well as hear their owner. A group of owners would make various noises from talking to humming "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". But the crux of the experiment came when the control group had owners express distress and sadness by feigning crying and sobbing.
Dr. Meyers-Manor came up with the idea for the study while playing with her kids. She was buried underneath pillows and in play, was calling for help. No one came to help except for her faithful pet collie, who ended up digging her out of the pillows. From that experience, she knew she had to conduct a more formal study.
Dogs were chosen of various sizes and breeds and they were all measured for stress levels. What they found was that every dog experienced a heightened stress level. The dogs who able to push through the door experienced stress but were calm enough to take action. And there were dogs who did not take action. It was not because they did not care for their owner, but rather their stress levels who so high it left them too paralyzed to do anything.
The classic television program, "Lassie", possesses the classic trope of "Timmy being stuck in the well". When this occurred or when anyone was in danger, Lassie sprung to action to save the day. In this recent study, some dogs came to the rescue while a few stood frozen. It wasn't due to indifference, but it seemed a few dogs were just too anxious to do anything.