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Your Dog Can Catch Your Mood

Study shows dogs can catch emotions from each other.

Humans can "catch" emotions from one another. If you are with someone who is feeling overwhelmed with sadness, for instance, you may begin to feel sad, too.

A new study indicates that dogs can share emotions, as well.

People Involuntarily Mimic Each Other's Facial Expressions

Humans experience empathy with one another by first mimicking the facial expressions of those near them. This is not a voluntary response; it happens automatically, and it's an important stepping stone toward empathizing with the other person.

Being able to empathize and coordinate our feelings and actions is an important part of functioning well in a group.

Dogs Have Mimicry Too

In a recent study, dogs playing together were observed for whether or not they mimicked each other's behaviors, especially the play bow and a relaxed, open facial expression associated with fun and play (Elisabetta Palagi, 2015).

The results of the research indicate that dogs do indeed "catch" emotions from each other.

Another interesting finding was that the stronger the two dogs were bonded to one another, the more closely and quickly they mimicked each other's behaviors.

Dogs and Humans Probably Share Emotions

The study results, along with the knowledge of humans' ability to experience emotional contagion, indicate to the researchers that dogs can likely mimic their owners' emotions, too. After all, a dog is quite bonded to her person, and dogs have been shown to understand humans' words and body language. It isn't a big leap to believe that dogs can pick up on and respond to their owners' feelings.

In fact, most dog-owners could tell you that's true without the research.

Works Cited

  1. Elisabetta Palagi, V. N. (2015, Dec. 23). Rapid mimicry and emotional contagion in domestic dogs. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150505.

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