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Biol Lett. 2008 Oct 23;4(5):446-8. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0333.

Dogs catch human yawns.

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1
School of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK.

Abstract

This study is the first to demonstrate that human yawns are possibly contagious to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Twenty-nine dogs observed a human yawning or making control mouth movements. Twenty-one dogs yawned when they observed a human yawning, but control mouth movements did not elicit yawning from any of them. The presence of contagious yawning in dogs suggests that this phenomenon is not specific to primate species and may indicate that dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy. Since yawning is known to modulate the levels of arousal, yawn contagion may help coordinate dog-human interaction and communication. Understanding the mechanism as well as the function of contagious yawning between humans and dogs requires more detailed investigation.

PMID:
18682357
PMCID:
PMC2610100
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2008.0333
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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