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08 August 2013

Dogs 'catch' owners' yawns

Contagious yawning between owners and their dogs may be a sign of bonding, experts say.

Yawn in the presence of your pooch and they're likely to yawn right back at you, a new study shows.

"We tried to create a comfortable atmosphere in doing the experiment, and sometimes it was so comfortable for them that they fell asleep," said study author Teresa Romero, a research fellow in the department of cognitive and behavioural science at the University of Tokyo.

The study was published online on 7 August in the journal PLoS One.

Although copying a yawn may not sound like such an impressive trick, scientists think it's a sign of something important – the ability to empathise and bond with others.

Measures of empathy

Evidence accumulating

For more insights into animal behaviour, head to the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University.

 
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