Yes, dogs can sense when you are sad, and they want to make you feel better. The journal Learning and Behavior found that dogs do not just sense you’re upset, but they long to help you too.
Almost 40 dogs and their owners participated in the study. The owners sat behind a glass door while their dogs remained on the other side of the door. Owners were advised to say the word “Help!” every 15 seconds-using either a neutral tone of voice or a distressed tone.
The animals were able to see and hear their owners through the glass door. They could also reach their owners by nudging open the door with their noses. Researchers discovered that most of the dogs went through the door to be with their owners regardless. However, when an owner sounded distressed, the dogs went through the door 40 seconds faster.
Dogs that did not go through the door still showed stressful behaviors when they watched their owners act upset.
Psychology professor Julia Meyers-Manor, the study’s author, said the results show how dogs show empathy and possess instincts to comfort their humans who they are close to.