If you've had a rough day at work, an argument with your partner or are just feeling a little blue, there's often nothing more comforting than having your canine companion come and offer a reassuring nuzzle.

And now research is suggesting that the love our pooches show us isn't just down to the fact that we're the ones who provide their dry dog food, walks and shower them with affection - it's simply a natural canine response.

Teats carried out by researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, found that when a human showed signs of distress - whether they were the dog's owner or not - most pooches approached them to provide "reassurance and comfort".

The scientists filmed 18 dogs at their homes as first their owner and then a stranger began to talk, hum loudly and then shed a few tears.

In all but three cases, the pup stopped what it was doing and submissively approached the distressed human and nuzzled or touched them reassuringly in an effort to comfort the person.

Lead author of the study Jennifer Mayer described the dogs as displaying relatively sophisticated behaviour similar to that of a toddler. While babies often responded to a distressed adult by mirroring their behaviour and weeping too, slightly older children will often try to 'heal' the other person by offering a hug or a toy.

"Regardless of whether it was their owner or the stranger, when an individual cried most of the dogs went up to them in a quiet, submissive way suggesting comfort-giving," Ms Mayer added.

"They didn't go up to their owner when the stranger cried, which would have been seeking comfort for their own distress rather like infants who cry when another baby cries.

"They were responding to the person's emotion, not their own needs."

Written by: Hannah