Most of us have seen a dog running up to someone who was crying. A new study has shown that dogs really do respond to a person’s crying. Not only do they sense when someone is sad, but they also act quickly to comfort the person. There was a study done that involved 34 owners and dogs.
The dogs and owners were placed into one of two groups. The dogs in both groups were placed in a rectangular room with a glass door. Their owners were behind the glass doors. In one group, the owners were asked to say “help” in a distressed voice for 15 seconds. The other group said “help” in their normal voice for 15 seconds.
The researchers noticed that both groups of dogs reacted to their owners’ voices. However, the reactions were different. The dogs who belonged to owners who cried in a distressed voice responded in 23.43 seconds. The other dogs responded in 95.89 seconds. Many of the dogs in both groups opened the doors.
It did not matter whether or not the dog was a therapy dog. The reactions were similar. Half of the subjects were therapy dogs. Julia Meyers-Manor was one of the lead authors of study. She is also an assistant professor of psychology at Ripon College in Wisconsin.
She stated that she does not know exactly what motivated the dogs to open the doors. However, she said that was clear that the dogs’ responded to their owners voices. It also shows that dogs take action when their owners are stressed.
The researchers also monitored the dogs for signs of distress. Even when the dogs were distressed, their stress levels were lower when they opened the door. Julie noted that the study does have limitations. The sample size was small, and it was conducted for a short period of time. Additionally, the researchers stated that some of the dogs opened the door just because they wanted to be with their owners.