A research paper called ‘Timmy’s in the well: Empathy and prosocial helping in dogs’, state that dogs with strong bonds to their owner will overcome the obstacles in their way to offer help and comfort for their person.
Emily Sanford, the author said, “We found dogs not only sense what their owners are feeling, if a dog knows a way to help them, they’ll go through barriers to provide to help them.”
She added, “Every dog owner has a story about coming home from a long day, sitting down for a cry and the dog’s right there, licking their face. In a way, this is the science behind that.”
The analysis was done using 34 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes and their owners. It included some belonging to Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Shih Tzus, Pugs and several mixed breeds.
A task in which owners were positioned behind a clear door held shut with magnets and they were asked to cry out. The dogs could see and hear them. The researchers measured the stress level of each dogs. However, dogs who were able to push through the door to “rescue” their owners showed less stress showing they were upset by the crying.
Sanford said, “Dogs have been by the side of humans for tens of thousands of years and they’ve learned to read our social cues.”
The paper was published in the journal- Learning & Behavior