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Dogs 'in tune with their owner's emotions'

Monday, 21st February 2011

Those currently looking to buy dog food online may not be surprised to hear that their pooch may well share their emotions.

New research by scientists at the University of Porto, in Portugal, have found that dogs share an 'emotional contagion' with their owners, making them able to tune into their feelings.

They made these claims in research published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Dr Karine Silva, a biomedical scientist at the establishment, said: "A study showing that pets, namely dogs, behave as 'upset' as children when exposed to familiar people faking distress, strongly suggests 'sympathetic concern'.

"Also, it has been reported that untrained dogs may be sensitive to human emergencies and may act appropriately to summon help, which, if true, suggests empathic perspective taking."

The scientists believe that dogs have are able to sense people's emotions because of biological changes that have become fine-tuned over the generations.

They also think that breed selection to create dogs that can undertake complex tasks, such as herding, has led them to have a better understanding of human emotion.