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New Study: Dogs demonstrate empathy to crying strangers

via content.usatoday.com

...grief counseling may be an instinct for most dogs, suggests a study looking at one long-held belief about man's best friend.

"How do dogs respond when humans suddenly begin to cry for no readily apparent reason," asks the Animal Cognition journal study by Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer of Goldsmiths College in London:

"It has been found that when typically-developing human infants are faced with suddenly crying individuals, they will often hug, pat, make appropriate verbal utterances (e.g., "there, there", "it's okay"), offer toys, and sometimes recruit assistance. The behavior of dogs under similar circumstances is harder to interpret. Dogs can whine, nuzzle, lick, lay their head in the person's lap or fetch toys.

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