Animal Behaviorists Run Experiment To See If Pet Dogs Will Come To The Aid Of Distressed Owners

August 2, 2018

dog-empathy-experiment.jpg

This is a short video of an animal behavior experiment conducted to determine if a person's pet dog will come to their aid if the person is distressed. The experiment, which was conducted with 34 different adult dogs of all breeds (including mutts -- my favorite), involved whether or not a dog would push an easily openable door (it's only held closed by weak magnets) to get to their distressed human. Some more info while I miss my dog at home and wish she was here with me chewing on my shoestrings:

The owners were in a small room with a window and a door easily pushed open by even a small dog's nose or paw. Some owners said, "Help" in a neutral tone of voice and hummed "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Others said "Help" in a distressed tone and cried.


The dogs did not exactly replicate Lassie's television performance. About half of them opened the door for their owners, and the numbers were the same whether the owners were humming a happy tune or crying.

On the other hand, the dogs that did open the door did so much more quickly for crying owners than they did for humming owners. So maybe they really do care.

Now I'm not expert on experiment construction, but I feel like a dog's past experience with opening doors or trying to open doors would play a huge part in the outcome of this experiment. Did the dog get to see that the door can be opened? If they didn't they might just think it's a wall with a window. Whatever the case, my dog would have been in my lap in record time because that bitch is not afraid to jump through a window.

Keep going for the video while I video-chat Margaret to tell her how much I love her.

Thanks to Cyndi M, who agrees this is why it's important to teach your dog how to dial 911. Or pull a fire alarm.

  • Forblat

    Maybe an acting class or two before the experiment would help

  • TheQiwiMan

    “Now I'm not expert on experiment construction, but I feel like a dog's past experience with opening doors or trying to open doors would play a huge part in the outcome of this experiment.”

    This is an excellent observation. If the people setting up this experiment didn’t take this into account somehow, I think it would make any results they claim to have highly suspect.

  • Jenness

    I agree - the dogs past has a lot. I have a german shepherd, she would go bleed to death trying to claw through concrete to get to me. Seriously wondering where they go these volunteers and dogs.

  • Totally biased bullshit. My pug loves me, but she legit does not know she can push a door open. Even if it's like 4 inches open and she would just need to push that 5th inch.... can't do it. Won't even try it.

    She'd watch me burn alive probably and bark her ass off but slightly nudging a door might as well be hacking the pentagon to her.

  • shayneb

    Good points re: experiment construction. Came here just to say that.

  • GeneralDisorder

    If that was either my ex wife's dogs they would just piss on the floor and bite the researchers.

  • TheQiwiMan

    You have two ex wives?

  • GeneralDisorder

    No. The apostrophe placement is correct. Are you volunteering to be my next ex wife?

  • TheQiwiMan

    Well it was a joke, but OHMYGOSHYESPLEASE

  • GeneralDisorder

    Fair warning. I'm not rich. Or smart. Or good looking.

  • TheQiwiMan

    #SoWetRightNow

  • Big Dog on Krampus

    where can i get that bangin' beat from the end credits??

  • BookCake

    Eggsy chose wisely...

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