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Imitation May Be a Common Way of Showing Empathy By Dogs

by Reshma Anand on December 28, 2015 at 2:31 PM
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Imitation May Be a Common Way of Showing Empathy By Dogs

Why should only humans crack jokes or mimic their pals for fun? Even our canine friends 'dogs' can do the same, revealed a new study.

A study published in the Journal Royal Society Open Science revealed that dogs too show signs of basic empathy by copying each other's expressions just like humans.

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Researchers from the University of Pisa's Natural History Museum in Italy, studied the ability of dogs to mimic each other's behavior. They report that this ability may have emerged in dogs during the process of domestication. This process was earlier found only in humans and non-human primates such as chimpanzees and orangutans.

"We demonstrated that rapid mimicry is present in dogs and it is an involuntary, automatic and split-second mirroring of other dogs. A dog while playing with another dog can read their motivation and the emotional state of the other dog by mimicking the same expression and body movement of the other dog," said lead researcher Elisabetta Palagi.
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Researchers filmed 49 dogs noting their playful behavior in a dog park in Palermo, Italy. After analyzing their 50 hours of video, they found that dogs were able to mimic the facial expressions and movements of other dogs in a split-second.

"In conclusion, our results demonstrate the presence of rapid mimicry in dogs, the involvement of mimicry in sharing playful motivation and the social modulation of the phenomenon," said the researchers.

Source: Medindia
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