Jan 19, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Dogs Are ‘Copycats’ After All

Dec 30, 2015 01:32 AM EST

Dogs are often referred to as the 'man's best friend.' They are known as animals that are highly intellectual and lovable. And just recently, they once again proved their intelligence when a new study came out saying that they have the ability to copy their fellow canine's emotions.

In a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Pisa in Italy, it was revealed that canines can "mimic" the emotions of the dogs around them. A behavior that the researchers believe would come during the domestication process. 'mimicking' or copying is a process that mostly known in humans as it evokes empathy, which is an important part of creating a social bond. This behavior is only previously known to be seen on the human-like animal species, the primates.

For the study, researchers conducted an experiment in order to see if mimicry or 'mirroring' someone's emotion or body movement to create a bond is also present in dogs. They did that by videotaping the dogs playing at a park in Palermo, Italy.

 After acquiring over 50 hours of material, the doctors studied their facial expressions along their body movements whenever they are interacting with other canines. After they are through with the study, the researchers were able to affirm the presence of mimicry and 'mirroring' in the dog's expressions and body movements.

According to Dr. Elisabetta Palagi, lead researcher of the study, they were able to showcase the rapid mimicry that is happening with the dogs. It is  voluntary, very quick and automatic copying of other dogs that allowed them to bond and share the same emotions.

Dr. Palagi further explained that when a dog is playing with another dog, it can notice and adapt to its motivation and emotional state. The researchers added that this particular behavior is only present in the humans and primate species. And this finding also supports the idea that empathy is also present in dogs through the use of mimicry and emotional adaptation.

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