In the study by Teresa Romero and colleagues from the University of Tokyo, pet dogs watched their owner or a stranger yawn, or mimic a yawning mouth movement, but yawned significantly more in response to their owners' actions than to the strangers' yawns.
The dogs also responded less frequently to the fake movements, suggesting they have the ability to yawn contagiously.
Previous research has shown that dogs yawn in response to human yawns, but it was unclear whether this was a mild stress response or an empathetic response.
Romero said that the study suggests that contagious yawning in dogs is emotionally connected in a way similar to humans.
The study has been published in open access journal PLOS ONE.
--ANI (Posted on 09-08-2013)