Looking at long-held owner beliefs, a study suggests that dogs comforted crying strangers in ways similar to human infants.
...In the study, both Mayer and the dog's owner alternately cried and hummed "Mary Had A Little Lamb", for 20 seconds in front of the dogs. Similar experiments have shown infants expressing empathy towards strangers under these conditions.
Three observers were asked to score films of the dog's reactions to the crying, humming and talking by Mayer and the owners. "Four emotional states in dogs were considered: submissive, calm, playful and alert," says the study.
By Dan Vergano,