Dogs yawn along with their owners, revealing a human-like ability to empathise, say scientists. Everyone knows yawns can be contagious, but a new study shows how the irresistible impulse to yawn can even spread between humans and their dogs.
According to researchers this could be an indication of empathy - the capacity to identify with another person's emotional state - in man's best friend.
The Japanese team of scientists recruited 25 dogs and their owners for the study. Dogs watched their owner, or someone they did not know, yawn or mimic yawning mouth movements. They were much more likely to yawn in response to their owner yawning than the actions of a stranger.