We all know the long-time trope according to which dogs resemble their masters. But is there more to the fact than it being a simple meme? According to scientists from Italy, out furry companions are a lot more empathic than previously thought, as dogs are able to reflexively mimic expressions.
The men who stare at dogs
A study originating in Italy recently decided to examine whether dogs are capable of rapid mimicry.
Rapid mimicry is a reflexive empathic response, which allows humans to quickly imitate someone else’s expressions, or to instantly show a facial expression relevant to their interlocutor’s mood.
In order to gauge whether dogs are also capable of experiencing rapid mimicry, the researchers used a sample of 49 dogs.
In probably the cutest research performed in the past year, the scientists then proceeded to release the dogs in a dog park designed for them.
After letting the dogs out (you knew it was coming), the scientists then continued the research by watching and recording them play for a few hours.
They then proceeded to quantify the results.
Exactly how much empathy do dogs show?
The dogs’ playful behavior was observed to be contagious, and it included such actions as the dogs kneeling on their front paws and wagging their tails, them keeping their mouths opened and relaxed, raising their ears and brows, as well as many others.
Just like humans, dogs were known to be social animals for quite some time now, but the extent to which they were able to empathize was unknown.
They can use their tails, bodies, heads, eyes, lips, and even teeth to socialize, being able to communicate surprisingly well.
For the first ever, rapid mimicry was observed in dogs. But wait, there’s more.
Not only did the dogs prefer to mimic positive gestures to those negative, but the researchers observed that playing sessions lasted longer if nice gestures were involved.
Also, dogs don’t stick to just mimicking other members of their species. They also like to mimic humans, and they share an empathy with their masters rarely found even between two human interlocutors. And all that is done involuntarily, reflexively, without any training whatsoever being necessary.
Not only do dogs mimic their human masters and their family members, but they can also easily identify their expressions and body postures in order to get along better.
Image source: Pixabay